Council Moves to Address Brexit Threat to Seafood Exports Welcomed

>> 2 October 2020

Aberdeenshire Council has agreed to vary the fees on export health certificates for food producers when they begin exporting to the EU from January 1, 2021.

The greatest volume of both processed and unprocessed food exports from Aberdeenshire is to the European Economic Area. With the end of the EU Transition Deal expected to occur on January 1, the United Kingdom will be considered by Europe as a third country for trade, irrespective of the outcome of ongoing negotiations to agree a Free Trade Agreement.

That will mean businesses exporting animal products to the EU in these circumstances will need to apply for an export health certificate (EHC) in order to clear border controls.

An EHC confirms that exports meet the health requirements of the destination country. The council is providing advice and support to the business sector as the UK nears the end of the EU transition period.

Yesterday (Thursday), the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee agreed that EHC fees may need to be reduced for export certificates to the EU and Northern Ireland to support the North-east fishing industry.

Councillors were told it was anticipated that up to 1,000 export health certificates may have to be issued in Aberdeenshire each week.

The committee also heard that the Scottish Government has requested that Food Standards Scotland take on the responsibility of coordinating national logistics hubs to relieve the burden on local authorities.

These hubs would provide the necessary staffing resources to issue EHCs - located in transportation hubs in central Scotland - and would relieve some of the pressure on Aberdeenshire Council officials.

Commenting, SNP spokesperson on Infrastructure Services Cllr David Aitchison said:

“The need for our high-quality seafood to reach markets in France, Spain, Italy, etc within short timescales is crucial. Any delays in the supply chain are potentially devastating. While it is clear that the council, COSLA and Scottish Government are doing everything in their power to address the challenges faced by the North-East seafood sector, the UK's exit from the EU and failure to reach an exit deal continues to cause huge uncertainty for these exports.

“Aberdeenshire Council’s role in Export Health Certification requires significant resourcing and I welcome the First Minister's confirmation that resources would be made available for greater resourcing for environmental health to the tune of £1.2million this year and £1.9million next year."

Head of Economic Development and Protective Services, Belinda Miller, said afterwards:

“We do, however, anticipate that several North-east fish processing companies, especially the larger ones, who do not use transportation hubs or need to share loads will still expect the council to provide them with EHCs. Our Environmental Health teams are looking into the option of creating a trial base in Peterhead Fish Market which would enable us to issue EHCs 12 hours-a-day, six days-a-week.”

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