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House of Commons Hansard
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Protected Geographical Indications: Export Value
12 July 2018
Volume 644
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1. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on the export value of food and drink sector products with the protected geographical indication mark. [906409]

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I have regular discussions with the Secretary of State for International Trade and others on promoting the UK’s food and drink abroad, including those foods with geographical indications. Food and drink with GIs represents about 25% of UK food and drink exports by value, with Scotch whisky being the largest by far. Those play an important role as exemplars of quality British produce.

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I thank the Minister for that reply. Arbroath Smokies, Stornoway black pudding and Scotch whisky are all key products in maintaining a high profile for Scottish food and drink. When he comes to agree trade deals post Brexit, will he be consulting and involving the Scottish Government in these discussions to make sure that all brands are protected?

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I simply say to the hon. Gentleman that we are clear that initially, through the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, all of our protected food names will come across and be protected in UK law. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that we maintain all our protected food names, and we have some 70 right across the country. I know that some, particularly salmon and Scotch whisky, are incredibly important to Scotland, and of course we will be working with our devolved Administrations and with our MPs in this House to make sure we protect those foods.

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As well as working with the Scottish Government, does the Minister agree that the Scotch Whisky Association has done an incredible amount of work on this issue, which is hugely important for that industry? Will he give further assurance that he is working across government—not just in his Department, but with every Department—to ensure that everyone knows how important the GIs are?

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Yes, and I would like to pay tribute to the work that the Scottish Conservative MPs have done to highlight these important issues. On Scotch whisky, we, along with the Department for International Trade, have done a lot of work with other Departments to ensure that we highlight the importance of these vital brands.

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The Secretary of State was explicit that

“market access for fisheries products is separate to the question of fishing opportunities and access to waters.”

But what use are fishing opportunities and access to waters if your product risks being held up in customs? For industries such as the live shellfish industry of Orkney this is literally a life-and-death situation, for should one of these shellfish perish, the whole tank is lost. Has the Minister had conversations about the difficulty we may have in the near future?

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I am not aware there is a precedent anywhere else in the world of giving a country access to your waters—to your own resources—in return for trade agreements. That is just not the way it works. There will be a discussion and an agreement on the management of shared fisheries stocks, and we are clear in our White Paper that we will manage our own exclusive economic zone and control access to it. Then there is a separate discussion to be had on trade, and the EU wants access to the UK market, too.