Scottish rural firms urge protection of UK internal market

The rest of the UK is the destination for the majority of Scottish agri food exports
The rest of the UK is the destination for the majority of Scottish agri food exports

New barriers to trade within the UK must be avoided at all costs to ensure it remains as frictionless as possible for producers, says Scottish Land & Estates (SLE).

Following a debate in Westminster last week which focused on the impact of the UK Internal Market Bill on Scotland, SLE says that, given the importance of the UK market to Scottish producers, moves to protect the ability to trade within the UK are welcome.

However, it says that any new system must have the confidence of all four nations and not negatively impact on devolved competencies.

Eleanor Kay, policy adviser for the rural business group, said she welcomed measures to protect the UK’s internal market and the continuation of trade.

“With the rest of the UK being the destination for the majority of Scottish exports, we do not want to see barriers to trade within the UK."

However, she added: “We need to see more clarity on the wider impact of some of the provisions within the Bill and particularly those that may affect devolved powers."

Rural businesses say they would like to see more detail from UK government on any potential financial constraints the Bill might have on Scottish agri policy and any issues regarding devolved competence.

Scotland must also retain its ability to create an agricultural policy which suits its own unique circumstances, Ms Kay added.

“What is absolutely essential is that all devolved administrations and the UK government have trust in those responsible for monitoring and scrutinising the internal market.

"Effective governance of the internal market will be crucial if economic barriers are to be avoided, so we welcome the proposal to establish an Office for the Internal Market."

Ms Kay added: “A mixture of mutual recognition, non-discrimination and common frameworks will be required to create an internal market that encourages growth throughout the UK and is fair for all.

"The internal market will not only impact UK producers but our export markets too, so we urge all four governments to seek a collaborative approach to this issue.”