Scottish SMEs Join Consultation with UK Government on the Future UK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
23 September 2020
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London – Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) from across Scotland joined a BritishAmerican Business (BAB) virtual roundtable discussion with the UK Minister of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands MP, and Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee MSP today, as part of a series of consultations carried out by the Department for International Trade (DIT) in partnership with BAB about the role that UK-U.S. trade and investment plays in local economies. The meeting comes after the fourth round of UK-U.S. Free Trade negotiations concluded on Friday 18 September.
Scottish-based businesses including Nairn’s Oatcakes, FOMO Protection and Walkers Shortbread had the opportunity to provide direct feedback to Minister Hands on their UK-U.S. trade and investment stories, including the barriers they currently face when exporting, importing, and investing in the U.S., where they see opportunities to grow their businesses in the U.S., and how a UK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement should work to their benefit.
Kate Birrell, Head of International Sales, Nairn’s Oatcakes said:
“The U.S. has become an increasingly important market for Nairn’s since we began exporting there over 12 years ago. A strong trading relationship between the UK and USA will be an important factor in our growth in the coming years so we were delighted to have the opportunity to feed into the negotiation process through this consultation and ensure that any future trade agreement will help support businesses such as ours on our international growth journey.”
A Free Trade Agreement with the United States could bring an additional £517m in the long-run to the Scottish economy, reducing trade barriers for the 1,981 businesses there that export across the Atlantic, and open up new markets for Scotland’s SME community.
In particular, a Free Trade Agreement can support the export of iconic Scottish products, such as salmon, beef and Scotch Whisky. Scotland exported over £1bn of beverages to the U.S. alone in 2019.
Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy said:
“Trade with the U.S. is vital to the Scottish economy, so it’s great that so many SMEs are joining the conversation with the DIT and BritishAmerican Business. As we continue to make good progress on negotiations with the U.S. following the fourth round, their experiences are vital in helping us ensure our trade policy works for Scottish producers and consumers.
“A trade deal between the UK and U.S. can make exporting easier for the roughly 2,000 Scottish businesses currently exporting across the Atlantic. It has the potential to lower tariffs on quality produce like Scottish Smoked Salmon and open up new markets for farmers. A deal could also mean better jobs and increase wages across Scotland as the nation is expected to be one of the parts of the UK to benefit most from a U.S. FTA.”
David Duguid, Minister for Scotland said:
“I’m encouraged to see a variety of Scottish SMEs so engaged with the UK Government.
“The Department for International Trade (DIT) is working closely with SMEs across Scotland, listening to their hopes and aspirations for UK-U.S. trade.
“It’s more important than ever that we support SMEs, the lifeblood of local economies, to create opportunities and safeguard jobs.
“Negotiating the most effective trade deal with the U.S. is vital to help exporters and protect Scotland’s world-famous products, including Scottish wild salmon, Scotch beef and lamb, and of course, Scotch Whisky.
“The UK Government is very keen to hear about SME’s particular and longstanding experience in international trade.”
Allan Hogarth, Executive Director, Scottish-North America Business Council said:
“The U.S. is Scotland’s top international destination for exports worth £4.6 Billion, and a major source of employment and inward investment. We are delighted to have helped facilitate this meeting and give Scottish businesses the opportunity to feed directly into the UK-U.S. FTA negotiations and develop an agreement can make a real difference to help them prosper going forward.”
The consultation series will see the Minister also sit down with SMEs across the UK throughout September and October.
A report summarising the input received from this consultation will be available afterwards.