Time to prepare Belgian ports ready for independent Scotland– Sturgeon to divert exports

Nicola Sturgeon pushes independence again at COP 26

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Jan Jambon, the minister-president of Flanders, a Dutch-speaking region of Belgium that includes the major port city of Antwerp, travelled to the UK this week with the aim of bolstering trade from Britain entering Belgian ports. He met Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh on Monday, where they discussed the trading opportunities presented for their countries should Scottish independence come to fruition. Mr Jambon said Scottish exports that would no longer have to come through England “could come directly to Europe by boat”, emphasising how this would swerve often troublesome customs checks following Brexit.

He said Scotland rejoining the European Union following Britain’s departure from the bloc would result in increased trade.

The Flemish politician claimed this direct trading relationship between the two countries would present an “enormous opportunity” that ports in his region “should start preparing for”.

Following his meeting with Ms Sturgeon, Mr Jambon said: “If Scotland becomes independent in a few years, it will want to join the European Union as soon as possible.

“From then on, she will no longer want to have her exports go through England but to ship them by sea directly to the continent.

“This is a huge opportunity that Antwerp and Zeebrugge must already anticipate now.

“Our ports must be ready to become at that time the main partner of the Scots.”

The Flemish politician met Ms Sturgeon on Monday where they discussed the opportunities for a trading relationship between an independent Scotland and Flanders.

A tweet from the Scottish Government on Tuesday morning, alongside a picture of the two politicians together, said: “First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed Minister President of Flanders Jan Jambon to Edinburgh yesterday.

“They discussed Scotland’s strong trade links with Flanders and future opportunities to co-operate across a range of shared interests.”

In a separate tweet posted on Monday, also showing the pair together in Edinburgh, Mr Jambon wrote: “Today I spoke in Edinburgh with the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“More economic cooperation, especially with our Flemish ports, was high on the agenda.

“We also discussed her government’s plans for a new independent referendum, possibly in 2023.”

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From June 2021, Scotland had suffered the heaviest export decline in the UK – a slump of 14 percent – according to figures published last month by HM Revenue & Customs

Over the past three years, during which the UK has been departing the EU, exports had also plunged from a high of around £4.8billion to £3.2billion in the second quarter of this year.

The SNP’s shadow international trade secretary Drew Hendry vented his fury at the “devastating figures”.

He claimed they showed the “catastrophic economic vandalism” Brexit has so far inflicted on Scotland by making it increasingly difficult for businesses to trade with the EU.

Mr Hendry said: “These are devastating figures which clearly show that the warnings about Brexit and the impact it would have on trade were justified – warnings that Boris Johnson and his band of Brexiteers continue to ignore at the expense of people and businesses across all sectors and all parts of Scotland.

“The SNP repeatedly warned the Tory government at Westminster that ploughing ahead with their reckless Brexit deal, in the middle of a pandemic, would have devastating consequences.

“We are now seeing them in black and white with these figures.

“Boris Johnson must now answer for the catastrophic economic vandalism that he has implemented on Scotland’s trade.”

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