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Scotland Act 1998

Section C5: Import and Export Control
Purpose and Effect

This Section reserves the control of import and export of goods and of endangered species of animals or plants to and from any part of the United Kingdom.  It has been amended by S.I. 2000/3252.

The control of movement of food, animals, plants and other items into and out of Scotland for the purposes of protecting human, animal or plant health, or to safeguard animal welfare, to protect the environment or to meet EU obligations under the Common Agricultural Policy is not reserved.


This reservation is intended to ensure that in all parts of the UK common rules will continue to govern the import and export of goods.  It will preserve a level playing field for business within the framework of European law and international trade agreements, which are reserved matters under paragraph 7 of Part I of Schedule 5.  It also covers, inter alia, the import and export of works of art and the international trade in endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Reservation in this Section of control of the import and export of goods is supplemented by reservations for product standards, safety & liability (Section C8), protection of trading and economic interests (Section C15), and control of weapons (Section L3).

The work of Scottish Trade International - a joint bureau of the Scottish Executive and Scottish Enterprise - in promoting exports from Scotland is not, however, reserved by this Section.

Details of Provisions

The reserved matters are:


the subject-matter of the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939. This Act provides for controlling the import, export and carriage coastwise of goods and for the enforcement of the law relating to these matters. It empowers the Secretary of State to prohibit or regulate the movement of goods to or from the UK, or specified parts of the country; and to make provision to enforce such regulations including penal sanctions and seizure of goods.  The Treasury is given power to impose charges in connection with the regulation of trade in goods; and


the prohibition and regulation of the import and export of endangered species of animals and plants.

Originally enacted in emergency powers legislation in September 1939, the 1939 Act is now part of the body of legislation governing controls over trade.  It also includes certain provisions relating to trading with the enemy, also a reserved matter under Defence at paragraph 9(1)(e) of Part I of Schedule 5.

Responsibility for operating import and export controls lies primarily with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.  The control over imports is comprehensive but most types of goods are released from control by an open general import licence.  But, particular controls are applied under the Act on, at present, imports of: certain steel and textile products from certain countries; certain other non-textile products from China; firearms and ammunition; radioactive materials; goods falling within the scope of the chemical weapons convention; and goods from areas subject to comprehensive UN sanctions.

The prohibition and regulation of the import and export of endangered species is also reserved because animals and plants do not otherwise fall within the controls on “goods”. The basis for current law at a British and EC level is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), although the Regulations which give effect to CITES at the EC and UK levels in some respects go beyond the Convention’s requirements and involve ancillary controls e.g. over advertising or transport for sale. The great majority of species to which CITES applies are exotic, but some are indigenous to the UK, e.g. the golden eagle.


In line with the general devolution of agriculture, fisheries, food and related matters, the prohibition and regulation of movement into and out of Scotland of the following are excepted from the reservation:


food, animals, animal products, plants and plant products but only for the purposes of protecting human, animal or plant health, animal welfare or the environment or observing or implementing obligations under the Common Agriculture Policy; and


animal feeding stuffs, fertilisers and pesticides (including anything treated as if it were a pesticide by virtue of section 16(16) of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985)(1) but only for the purposes of protecting human, animal or plant health or the environment.


The words in brackets were added by Article 4 of SI 2000/3252.

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