Established trade deals for Scottish seed potatoes to countries outwith the EU will not be immune from the impact of Brexit.
Levy body AHDB’s head of exports Peter Hardwick told seed growers meeting in St Andrews that many complex trade deals currently rely on EU agreements and are based on EU regulations.
Egypt is a key market for high value seed potatoes, with more than 50,000 tonnes expected to be exported this year but Mr Hardwick warned that trade deals could be interrupted where they rely on EU trade agreements or are based on EU regulations.
He said: “We have an Association Agreement there which is based on being within the EU, therefore we need to ensure that something else replaces it when we leave. This is of course entirely possible but does require focus and resource to make sure it happens. The last thing an industry heavily reliant on exports needs is unexpected obstacles stopping our goods from getting to key markets.”
Mr Hardwick said the Association Agreement with Egypt was a 355 page document covering everything from felt hats to children’s toys and seed drills to ladies apparel.
And he warned: “If you want to multiply that work with all the counties we have Association Agreements with there’s a real need for identifying the potential risks in terms of a hiatus in trade and secondly prioritising getting that work done and resourcing it adequately.”
Growers learned that AHDB is exploring other untapped markets interested in UK seed and a delegation from Russia will visit Scotland next month. This market has been open for several years but very little trade has taken place, partly because other markets are closer and so transport costs are lower. The fall in the value of sterling is expected to influence that situation.