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As China deal collapses...

Sturgeon to boost manufacturing post-Brexit

Wireline industryMore support for manufacturing will help cushion the economy against a potential downturn in exports resulting from the Brexit decision, the First Minister will say today.

Nicola Sturgeon will argue that communities across the UK need to be given more reasons to be optimistic by the UK government ending the  austerity agenda and investing in jobs and public services.

Ahead of a lecture she is delivering in Sheffield this evening, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government is looking at ways to grow manufacturing and invest in skilled jobs for the future.”

Her call for more help for industry comes after it emerged the two Chinese companies which planned to invest in Scotland  –  SinoFortone and China Railway No 3 Engineering Group – have withdrawn from a Memorandum of Understanding they struck with her in March.

The £10 billion investment deal between the Scottish Government and the two companies has been axed following an outcry about the secrecy surrounding the deal.

Economy secretary Keith Brown attacked opposition parties for their role in the collapse of the deal.

“We were aware that Sinofortone felt they could not move ahead with investment in the climate of hostility they faced from other parties but continued to believe in the benefits for Scotland of an infrastructure partnership with China and hoped more unified support would be possible,” he said.

“We remain committed to pursuing these opportunities. The MoU is about building relationships with a view to investment and we remain committed to it.

“The opposition should be ashamed of themselves if their actions, in search of cheap headlines, have put up to £10bn of investment at risk.”

A Labour economy spokesman insisted the deal posed serious questions about the “transparency and competence” of SNP ministers.

In her address to the Sheffield conference, Ms Sturgeon will promote her government’s commitment to building the manufacturing sector.

She will say: “190,000 people are currently employed in manufacturing, which accounts for 52% of all of Scotland’s international exports.

“Yet we know manufacturing and export industries will suffer if they are outside the single market. Research published by the NIESR economic think-tank last week highlights that a hard Brexit could hit goods exports to the tune of around £3 billion.

“So we must keep supporting the sector and guard against the possible impact of leaving the single market.’

The First Minister will deliver the annual lecture to the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute on the topic of: “Scotland and the UK: economic policy after the EU referendum.”

The Scottish government has already established a National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland to promote continuous innovation, improve productivity and increase investment.

“With the revitalisation of Scotland’s steel industry and the enormous potential of our low carbon industry, this is the right time to invest in opportunities in our manufacturing sector,” she said.

“The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield is a world leading research facility that researches and resolves advanced manufacturing problems, and it is one potential model that we can learn from in developing Scotland’s National Institute of Manufacturing.”

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