Scottish energy firms could miss out on the benefits of a vital trade deal between the US and Europe if Scotland becomes independent, the UK Government’s consul in Houston has claimed.
Trade between the two oil capitals, Aberdeen and Houston, could miss out on upcoming new trade benefits if Scotland becomes an independent nation, Houston consul Andrew Millar told the Press & Journal.
He said there was no guarantee an independent Scotland would benefit from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The deal, which is currently under negotiation, aims to remove trade barriers between the EU and US, making it easier to trade goods and services.
According to the European Commission, TTIP could boost the European economy by nearly £100billion, the US economy by around £74billion and the rest of the world by £82billion.
“We anticipate 1% added to the economic growth on either side of the Atlantic through trade,” said Mr Millar.
“That’s an EU level agreement; if we step outside that as an independent country it will be an unknown.”
The Scottish Government last night refuted Mr Millar’s claims and said businesses would benefit from Scottish Government offices already in place across the world.
A spokesman said: “Scotland will make the transition to continued membership of the EU as an independent country between a vote for independence in September and independence day in March 2016.
“We will therefore benefit from the TTIP like any other EU country.
“The Scottish Government already has offices in Washington DC, Brussels and Beijing and any new diplomatic services would be co-located within Scottish Development International’s (SDI) overseas offices. In some countries, including the United States, this network will include consulates in strategic locations. We will be able to build on the already strong presence that SDI has in the United States.”
Mr Millar said the trade in energy products and services between Scotland and the US was currently driven by the onshore shale gas boom and a drive towards more deepwater work offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
There is also a push to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US to the UK, which according to Mr Millar should help the UK gas market.
“Gas is still a pipeline market predominantly – bringing that stream of gas into the market will make a difference,” said Mr Millar.
In March 2013, Centrica signed a £10billion deal to take 89billion cubic feet of annual LNG from Cheniere Energy.
The firm, which owns British Gas, said the deal, which has a target export date for 2018, would secure enough gas for around 1.8million UK homes a year.