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by Nicholas Mairs
04 August 2015
Migrant crisis hurting Scottish food exports

Migrant crisis hurting Scottish food exports

The UK Government’s inaction over the ongoing Calais crisis is harming Scottish exports, according to the Scottish Government.

Estimates suggest there are around 3,000 migrants in the Calais area attempting to reach the UK, which has caused severe disruption at the border in recent weeks.

With Scotland exporting £461m of seafood to mainland Europe last year, Scottish firms have raised concerns over the on-going delays at the Channel Tunnel as a result of the humanitarian crisis.

Fisheries and Food Secretary Richard Lochhead has called for urgent talks with Westminster officials to prioritise the transport of perishable goods in to mainland Europe.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “The UK is focussing its efforts on stopping people getting into the UK but they are not responding to the fact that Scotland's exports are not getting into Europe.

“Seafood exports are worth five times as much in Scotland as the UK as a whole – which means Scottish seafood producers are being disproportionately affected by the on-going Channel Tunnel disruption.

“I have heard first-hand about orders in some categories being down 80 per cent and valuable European markets built up over decades potentially being lost due to orders not being fulfilled.”

Lochhead’s comments follow an open letter from the First Minister to Prime Minister David Cameron last week.

While reiterating the importance of the UK’s humanitarian role in the ongoing crisis, Nicola Sturgeon likewise emphasised the importance of accessible routes for Scotland’s sea food transporters.

The First Minister said: “The delays, damage and uncertainty caused by the lack of safe and timeous passage through the Tunnel is costing the sector millions of pounds every week and placing future markets in jeopardy.

“That is why I have asked the Prime Minister once again for firm and urgent action to be taken by the UK Government, working as necessary with the French authorities, to secure safe passage for seafood products."

Responding to the First Minister’s letter, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “We understand the problems faced by exporters and hauliers and are determined to do everything we can to bring the disruption to an end.”

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Government had “a grip on the crisis” after introducing stronger measures to prevent would-be migrants entering the Eurotunnel terminal.

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