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Need for more overseas sellers

Small export base ‘puts Scotland at risk’

Port of Grangemouth
Port of Grangemouth


Scotland needs to increase the number of exporting companies if it is not to be left behind in the reshaping of the European economy, it has been claimed.

Michael Urquhart, chairman of SCDI’s International Business Committee, said the Brexit decision willfundamentally change our trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world.”

Speaking during the economic development group’s forum, he said: “As global competition is growing and other countries, such as Germany through its business-led Industrie 4.0 strategy, work together to transform their strategy, products, working practices and skills, we must ensure we are not left behind.

“As a new UK industrial strategy is being developed and Scottish enterprise bodies are being reformed, complex negotiations are taking place on Brexit and Scotland’s place in the UK, we must increase the relatively small number of companies which account for most of Scotland’s exports.

“This will mean providing accessible support and as much clarity as possible for Scottish businesses, especially SMEs.” 

Mr Urquhart there were key questions around encouraging more companies to start, or increase, exporting, and improving support for inward investment.

“How will the working relationship between Scottish Development International and the UK Department for International Trade be maintained and strengthened to optimise the support for businesses?” he asked.

“What are the prospects for Britain to agree a free trade deal with the EU and be “a global leader for free trade? And how can we get more of our businesses and sectors, and people and places, performing at world-leading levels?”

He said the forum would also look at the retention and recruitment of home-grown and immigrant skilled labour. 

Friday’s sessions will include contributions from Mark Garnier, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for International Trade, UK Government and lawyer Diane Nicol of Pinsent Masons, who will discuss how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models, such as the gig economy.

Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal & Vice Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, will discuss the role of universities in supporting the delivery of a high value industrial strategy.

Richard Davies, chief of Staff at the LSE Growth Commission, and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers at HM Treasury, will discuss the Commission’s major new report, ‘UK Growth, A New Chapter’, on a post-Brexit strategy for modern labour markets, industrial strategy, ‘openness’ to trade and talent, and business finance and growth.


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