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Wales should have a ‘seat at the table’ when negotiating trade deals, says Plaid Cymru MP

09 Feb 2021 3 minutes Read
Liz Saville Roberts MP (CC BY 3.0)

A Plaid Cymru MP has said that Wales should have a “seat at the table” when trade deals are negotiated.

Liz Saville Roberts made the comments following the news that Welsh firms were being hit hard by a ban on exporting shellfish to the EU after the trade agreement the UK Government struck came into force.

The Member of Parliament for Dwyfor Meirionnydd said that agriculture and fishing are devolved, while negotiating trade deals is not, and argued that the ban was “further proof” that Wales need to be involved.

She also told George Eustice, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to “cover the costs  all necessary export facilities for Welsh businesses.”

One of the main issues is a total ban on certain types of mollusc from ‘Class B’ waters around the UK being sent to the EU, and exports of mussels, oysters, clams and cockles have been hit by it.

Ms Saville Roberts said: “Despite the EU’s well documented position on third country exports, the Government breezily assured our shellfish industry that the ban would be lifted.

“We now know that that is not the case. Agriculture and fishing are devolved; negotiating trade deals is not. It is this Government’s responsibility that the Welsh shellfish industry is now unable to export to Europe, and further proof—if any were needed—that Wales needs a seat at the table when it comes to negotiating.”

‘Welsh businesses’ 

She added: “Will the Government now guarantee to cover the costs of all necessary export facilities for Welsh businesses such as Bangor Mussel Producers in Gwynedd, which are presently unable to trade with their export market?”

George Eustice, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “As I pointed out earlier, it is not the case that we sought assurances or thought we had them, and that the EU has not made a change to accommodate this trade.

“Nor is it the case that the EU had a ban on the trade from third countries for bivalve molluscs. Indeed, its own health certificate—in the notes to guide it—makes it very clear it is within scope, because it states: ‘This certificate is to be used for the entry into the Union of consignments of live aquatic animals intended for all other aquaculture establishments including purification centres’.

“So, the status quo law the EU has does allow this trade to continue. That is the guidance that the EU gave us all along. It has changed its position. In the short term, our objective is to get the EU to abide by its own laws and legal processes here.

“Obviously, if it refuses to do so, or it decides to change its law to make things more difficult, we will consider what steps are necessary at that point to support industry.”

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