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SNP Brexit critic hails salmon exports to France

Mairi Gougeon with Tavish Scott at the reception in Paris

A Scottish government minister has been hailing the success of salmon exports to France despite claiming earlier this year that Brexit has failed to deliver a single benefit for Scotland’s food and drink businesses.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon was in Paris for a St Andrew’s Day celebration which marked a surge in sales of salmon to France from £221 million in 2019 to a record £304m last year.

“On our national holiday, St Andrew’s Day, it is fitting that the Scottish salmon success story is high up on the agenda,” said Ms Gougeon. “I was pleased to be in Paris to continue the close collaboration between the governments of Scotland and France and to consider ways in which we can support exports of salmon to the EU and France, in particular.”

Her comments were in marked contrast to a statement in January when she said: “Brexit has failed to deliver a single benefit for Scotland’s rural communities, or the countless food and drink businesses that support them.”

Ahead of a meeting of the of the inter-ministerial group for environment, food and rural affairs, she said Brexit had “created barriers to trade that have harmed many businesses and communities in the short term, with research suggesting a significant risk to their success in the longer term too. Scottish exporters are also being forced to cope with a mountain of complex, time-consuming and costly customs and borders arrangements.”

At today’s event at the British embassy in Paris, Scottish Salmon chief executive Tavish Scott said salmon companies have “overcome the new bureaucratic difficulties” caused by Brexit to bring salmon to France “as quickly and efficiently as possible”.

He added: “It is a testament to their perseverance and determination that Scottish salmon exports to the EU have actually increased since January 2021.

“It has been a tough period but the rise in salmon sales to the EU shows just how important the French and wider European market is for our member export companies.

“I would particularly like to thank the French government and representatives in Edinburgh and London who have helped us overcome these challenges.”

Scotland’s farm-raised salmon sector directly employs more than 2,500 people in Scotland and supports more than 3,600 suppliers and a further 10,000 indirect jobs.

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