The Scottish Government has called for clarity from Westminster due to unease over the future of Protected Geographical Indicators (PGIs)
Unease surrounding the future of Protected Geographical Indicators (PGIs) grew this week with the Scottish Government blaming Westminster for a lack of clarity on the product safeguards.
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing has written to Defra, the Department of International Trade and the Department for Exiting the EU calling for reassurances.
In his letter Mr Ewing said: "The lack of clarity being shown by the UK Government, coupled with the frequency in which the media is reporting apparent future trade deals being discussed where Geographical indicators (GI) are either an afterthought or not deemed to be important is creating some real concerns.
"Indeed, the recent evidence provided by Mr Gove at the Rural Economy Committee of the Scottish Parliament and reference to ’forms of protection’ rather than confirming a GI system has only added to this lack of clarity.
"Over recent months my officials have queried the fact that the GI provisions were still flagged as ’ongoing discussions’ in the draft Withdrawal Agreement and have been assured that this should not be interpreted as disagreement – simply that agreement had not yet been reached yet. That position has never been satisfactory.”
Scotland’s distilling sector, which is the major customer for home grown barley and wheat is protected by the Scotch Whisky PGI and Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI are hard won designations.
A spokesman for the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers said: “PGIs are an important marketing tool for our member businesses both within the UK and in Europe. We give our full support to the Scottish Government’s efforts to ensure they all existing PGIs are protected under any future trade deals that the UK Government strikes with new trading partners around the world.”
A Scotch Whisky Association spokesman added: “There is no reason to believe that Scotch Whisky, which has been an EU GI since 1989, will not continue to be a GI in the EU post-Brexit.
"We are urging the UK government to legislate for a clear GI framework, including a register, to ensure the continued protection of all EU registered GIs."
There were fears President Donald Trump may use his visit to the UK this week to further decry GI’s which he sees as barriers to free trade.
Responding to Mr Ewing’s letter a UK Government spokesman said: “We are working to ensure continued protection for our valuable GIs and will use the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to transfer the EU schemes currently protecting our GIs into domestic law.
"The Government’s objective in any trade negotiations will be to support the best possible outcome for the UK’s GIs and the UK economy as a whole."