Tariffs imposed on goods after a no-deal Brexit are “not necessarily the end of the world”, a minister has said.
David Duguid told the BBC that there would still be access to the EU market after Brexit in the event of no agreement being reached.
His comments came on the same day as decisive talks between the UK and EU were due to take place, with prime minister Boris Johnson having said previously that a no-deal outcome is “very, very likely”.
Duguid told Politics Scotland: “That’s not necessarily the end of the world.
“We talk about financial tariffs, we talk about non-tariff barriers, these are all the things we’re trying to avoid with a free trade agreement.
“We export from countries we don’t have free trade agreements with, on Australia terms for example, which is the expression often used.
“It doesn’t stop exports, it doesn’t stop trade.”
Scotland’s constitution secretary, Mike Russell, told the same show that tariffs would be “a disaster”.
“For Mr Duguid or anybody else to say these are irrelevant is nonsense,” he said.
“Tariffs on land, for example, a big issue in Scotland, would be 60%. That’s not currency fluctuation, that’s disaster.”
The Scottish Office minister also sought to counter claims that a no-deal Brexit would result in food shortages, saying there has been some “scaremongering” around the issue.
He said: “There is a lot of scaremongering going around, not least by the SNP and others who would have us believe that the sky is going to fall down.”
Duguid went on to say he could not guarantee there would not be food shortages after Brexit, calling it “hypothetical”.
He added: “You may not get the shape of pasta you like, but there will not be the kind of shortages that I think has been reported.”
Duguid admitted time is running out for a deal to be approved, but added: “I’m always optimistic and I know the UK government and our negotiators have been basically turning over every stone to try and get a deal.
“But we have to make a decision today and we are going to reach the end of the transition period at the end of this year so time is running very short on that.
“But that’s not to say that discussions won’t continue beyond the transition period.”