SNP leader makes pledges on economy

Sturgeon unveils four-point plan to protect trade

nicola-sturgeon-snp16Nicola Sturgeon put a new focus on expanding Scotland’s international trade in a keynote speech to the SNP conference today.

The party leader outlined plans for permanent representation in Berlin, to double the number of Scottish trade and investment staff working across Europe, and install new trade envoys.

She announced a four-point plan designed to ensure the UK’s withdrawal from Europe does not damage Scotland’s overseas trade.

“We will also redouble our efforts to make sure our economy is internationally competitive,” she said. “That’s even more important now in the wake of the Brexit vote.

“Make no mistake, the growth of our economy right now is threatened not just by the prospect of losing our place in the single market – disastrous though that would be.

“It is also the deeply damaging – and utterly shameful – message that the Tories’ rhetoric about foreign workers is sending.

“And the uncertainty that message brings to our public services and Scottish employers .

“More than ever, we need to tell our European friends that Scotland is open for business.”

She will announce a four-point plan to boost trade and exports:

  • a new Board of Trade drawing on the best business expertise.
  • a new trade envoy scheme.
  • permanent trade representation for Scotland with a Scottish Innovation and Investment Hub in Berlin.
  • double the number of Scottish Development International staff working across Europe.

Ms Sturgeon will use her closing address to issue another swipe at the UK government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations.

Scotland cannot trust the likes of Boris Johnson and Liam Fox to represent us. They are retreating to the fringes of Europe, we intend to stay at its very heart where Scotland belongs .

“To our European friends, we say: Scotland is open for business.”

Ms Sturgeon said the small business bonus will be extended. From April 1 next year, 100,000 business premises across Scotland will pay no business rates at all. 

The £500m Growth Scheme, announced in the programme for government, will offer guarantees and loans to companies seeking to export, expand and create new jobs.

“We’ll make sure that the benefits of growth are shared more widely,” said Ms Sturgeon.

“Central to that is our work to extend payment of the living wage. There are currently over 600 accredited living wage employers in Scotland.  By this time next year, that number will rise to at least 1000. That’s what inclusion means in practice.”

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