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As FM pledges £2m for exporters...

Chambers chief calls for end to ‘political point scoring’

Tim Allan: ‘need to take a pragmatic approach’ (pic supplied)


Business and government were tonight urged to establish a common purpose across the nation and dispense with political point-scoring.

Tim Allan, president of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, made the appeal at a business event also addressed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who is currently engaged in a high profile spat with Theresa May’s government over Brexit.

Mr Allan told guests attending the Annual Scottish Business Address: “Establishing a common purpose between government, business and civic society is central to tackling the big challenges facing our economy, requiring long-term solutions and unwavering commitment.

“There is no doubt we are in a challenging environment, politically, economically and culturally. The solution, however, is not political point-scoring, but taking a pragmatic real-world view with our local communities and businesses in mind.”

Welcoming a £2m investment announced by the First Minister to support Scottish businesses to export through the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network, he added: “The Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network plays a central role in Scotland in driving business growth in all of our communities.

“This additional investment will enable more small and medium-sized businesses to grasp the trade opportunities that we know are out there. 

“Through our Scottish and international network, over the last 18 months, we have galvanised the expertise and connectivity of the business community, developed strong business to business trade alliances with over 20 countries and successfully tapped into our unique network of Scottish business people located and trading all over the world.

“We achieved remarkable results and have proven the benefits of all of us working together, recognising the respective strengths of business and public sector. 

This truly unique Scottish model has reimagined and reshaped how we tackle the big challenges facing our economy. The Scottish business community is energised to play our part, building on what we do best, getting orders, creating wealth and jobs for all.”

Government cash for exporters

Ms Sturgeon told guests that the extra £2m over three years includes a programme of activity with the Chambers of Commerce network, including trade missions.

Latest statistics show Scottish exports of goods increased 6% to £29.6 billion over the past year to September 2018 – the fastest rate of growth of any country in the UK.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Chambers represent more than 12,000 companies across the country. I value what they do to help businesses to promote Scotland overseas and to act as a critical friend and partner to government.

“Businesses that export are also likely to become more productive. They become more ambitious, embrace new ideas and often have to adopt new ways of working. This new funding will provide vital business-to-business support to companies through the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network.

“That is one reason why one of our priorities – throughout the 30 months since the Brexit vote – has been to make clear that Scotland remains an open, internationalist, welcoming country.

“Encouraging companies to look to overseas markets is a vital part of our approach. It improves our balance of payments, increases employment, and raises our productivity.”

As part of the Programme for Government, a total of £20 million was pledged over the next three years for promoting exports. This funding to Scottish Chambers to drive more businesses to export is in addition to the £2m already announced in First Minister’s export challenge.

The chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, Nikhil Rathi, was due to deliver the after dinner speech. 

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