MAIRI Gougeon has said that the signing of a new Indo-Pacific trade deal “offers positive elements” but warned the UK Government “not to use Scotland’s world class products as bargaining chips”.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch signed the treaty to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade bloc in New Zealand on Sunday, kickstarting the UK’s membership of a trade deal spanning 12 economies across Asia, the Pacific, and now Europe.

When the deal was first announced in March, Badenoch was forced to go on the defensive after critics of the deal pointed out the Government’s own experts said it would only boost the economy by 0.08%.

The deal is the biggest the UK has signed since leaving the EU, but does not compensate for the estimated 4% drop in GDP Brexit caused.

While Britain already has trade agreements with the CPTPP members apart from Malaysia and Brunei, officials have said it would deepen existing arrangements, with 99% of UK goods exported to the bloc now eligible for zero tariffs.

Scotland Office minister and Tory peer, Malcolm Offord, said securing the deal is “hugely beneficial for Scotland”, with tariffs of around 80% being eliminated on UK exports of whisky to Malaysia within 10 years.

A new government report also revealed that over 21,000 people were employed across 547 CPTPP-owned businesses in Scotland in 2019, with a combined turnover of £6.9 billion – with further investment on the way according to the Department for International Trade.

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Commenting on the signing, Gougeon said the partnership “offers positive elements”, including the whisky tariff reductions which could provide new opportunities for producers.

The Glasgow Distillery founder, Liam Hughes, said it would “allow us to continue growing our exports in this region.”

He added: “Easier access and reduced trading barriers are always welcome and support us on our exporting journey.”

But Gougeon also warned that the signing shouldn’t be “at the expense of other sectors of the Scottish agri-food economy”.

She added: “The UK Government must not use our world class products as bargaining chips and pit Scottish needs and interests against each other in any agreement on market access.

“There are significant risks in particular for our sensitive agricultural products - which have already been damaged by bilateral deals with two of the larger economies in the CPTPP, New Zealand and Australia.”

Scottish farmers expressed particularly deep concerns over the trade deal agreed between the UK and Australia in 2021.

Industry body NFU Scotland warned it would ultimately give Australia "unfettered access" to UK food and drink markets, saying it was dangerous given different production systems are permitted in Australia compared to the UK.

This includes lower standards for animal health and welfare, as well as the use of pesticides and antibiotics.

There have also been concerns about intellectual property rights and the potential implications for the cost of drugs to the NHS while unions worry about workers’ rights.

Gougeon said: “It is absolutely vital that preferential access to the UK market must be contingent on producers meeting the same high standards our domestic producers are required to meet.

She added: “Increasing trade is positive when done in line with the principles we set out in our Vision for Trade strategy. It is only right that devolved interests are fully considered to ensure that trade policy works for the whole of the UK.

“We will review the newly published documents, in line with our trading principles and to ascertain the likely impacts on Scotland. I will continue to urge the UK Government to work more closely with us in developing a more coherent trade strategy, which, among other things, gives agriculture a higher priority.”

Speaking ahead of the signing, Kemi Badenoch said: “I’m delighted to be here in New Zealand to sign a deal that will be a big boost for British businesses and deliver billions of pounds in additional trade, as well as open up huge opportunities and unparalleled access to a market of over 500 million people.

“We are using our status as an independent trading nation to join an exciting, growing, forward-looking trade bloc, which will help grow the UK economy and build on the hundreds of thousands of jobs CPTPP-owned businesses already support up and down the country.”