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Brexit (Trade with United States)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 13th June 2019.

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Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

6. To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the potential impact on Scotland of President Trump’s recent comments regarding Brexit, including it being an opportunity to strengthen trade between the United States and the United Kingdom. (S5O-03379)

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

The United States is an important trading partner for Scotland, and already accounts for 17 per cent, or £5.5 billion, of our international exports. We do not need to leave the European Union to trade successfully—and on terms that we consider to be appropriate to our values—with the US

The UK Government is keen to pursue a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, but the Scottish Government is fundamentally opposed to any deal that would lead to a reduction in environmental and safety standards, or that would expose our public services, including the national health service, to market forces. Accordingly, we will oppose any such deal and take every step that we can take to make sure that that does not come about.

Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

When he was on his state visit last week, Donald Trump made clear his view that our NHS and agriculture sector should be part of any post-Brexit trade deal. Does the minister share my concerns about those comments? Does he agree that we in Scotland must do all that we can to ensure that we do not get hormone-injected beef and chlorinated chicken, and that big pharmaceutical companies do not have a negative influence on our healthcare system and our animal welfare standards?

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I absolutely share those concerns; indeed, I suspect that the vast majority of MSPs in the chamber share them.

This Government will do all that it can to ensure that a trade deal with the US does not end up downgrading, or deviating from, the safety and environmental standards that we currently benefit from as members of the EU. We are also strongly opposed to anything that would open up our NHS or any other part of the public sector to unwanted interest from businesses that are looking to privatise those services.

We said clearly in our paper, “Scotland’s Role in the Development of Future UK Trade Arrangements—A Discussion Paper”, which was published last August, that we expect this Government and this Parliament to have a proper role and substantial involvement at all stages of the process of negotiating future trade arrangements. That would be the only way to make sure that Scotland’s interests are protected. We reiterated that position in the specific context of a trade deal with the US, in response to the UK Government’s consultations on future trade agreements last November.