Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, today challenged the Minister of State for the Department for International Trade on plans to protect fragile local industries affected by the US Government’s new tariffs. A range of UK products, including knitwear and single malt whisky, are being targeted with 25 percent tariffs, expected to take effect on 18 October.
Speaking in the House, Mr. Carmichael said:
“Knitwear is something which defines Shetland in the eyes of many across the world. Just in the last week, visitors from around the globe came to the enormously successful Shetland Wool Week, especially from America.
“Will the Minister understand that the damage that will be caused by tariffs of this sort is not just about manufacturing and exporting, but also tourism, that communities that rely on our defining products, like Scotch whisky and knitwear, are some of the smallest and most fragile, and that jobs that are lost will not be easily replaced?”
Responding for the Government, Conor Burns MP said:
“Knitwear is from his part of Scotland is a small but very well-known part of the Scottish and UK brand.
“If these partnerships folded it is unlikely that they would come back, and a very precious part of not only our heritage but also our micro-economy, would be lost. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to persuade the US to think again.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“The Minister today expressed some welcome sympathy for the threat that these tariffs pose to rural industries. I hope that he and the Government intend to offer more than kind words. Five days on, the UK Government still has not made direct contact with the US Government about this issue. It’s time to pick up the pace.
“Some Brexit supporters have been quick to point out that these tariffs are imposed on the EU and not just the UK. That ignores the reality of a no-deal Brexit, where trade with countries across the globe and on many more products would be subject to further tariffs. This is a timely reminder of the dangers when free trade breaks down.
“Vital sectors of the economy of remote parts of Scotland are now at risk from these tariffs. I hope that this is not a sign of future treatment for the rural economy after Brexit.”