Warnings have been issued that Brexit was just one of the competing pressures that affected January’s huge slump in food and drink exports to the EU.
Border issues were a concern at the beginning of the month due to a new strain of Covid-19 and large parts of France still have curfews today.
‘Export arrangements like going back to 19th Century’
Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, also believes stockpiling of some frozen goods may also have contributed to the huge decline.
He said: “There were a lot of things going on with the pandemic, it may also have dropped off after Christmas. We’re in March now and things are beginning to flow a lot better.
“But there’s still a lot of work to be done. It’s working better for the bigger cash-rich companies, but the smaller companies are still severely restricted – there’s a huge burden of paperwork.
“Everything is electronic these days but they insist on having a paper trail for exports now. It’s like going back to the 19th Century.”
Export slump ‘not an electoral issue’
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has accepted there is work to be done on Brexit but does not think it will affect his party at the polls.
He said: “I don’t look at this as an electoral issue, I look at this as an industry that has found great difficulties with the deal that was reached and the procedures that were put in place.
“I’ve not shied away from accepting that and saying we have to do better.
“That’s why I called for a compensation scheme, I think it was right it was extended to the catching sector.”