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Exports drive

Published: 06 Sep 2018 19:00

CBI to help expand Scotland’s international markets.

The Scottish Government is teaming up with the leading business group the CBI, to boost Scotland’s exports, the First Minister has announced.

CBI Scotland will mobilise its membership to help deliver 300 business peer-to-peer mentorships over the next three years to increase awareness of the benefit of exporting and help ramp-up overseas activity.

These measures are part of a package backed by £20 million investment announced as part of the Programme for Government, unveiled this week by the First Minister, and come as the latest statistics show Scottish exports of goods increased 7% to £28.8 billion over the past year to June 2018 – the fastest rate of growth of any country in the UK.

CBI Scotland and the Scottish Government will also host a major business conference on exporting at the end of November to encourage companies to enter international markets.

Speaking at the CBI Scotland annual dinner, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Over the past year, our goods exports increased by 7% – the fastest rate of growth of any country in the UK. We are determined to work with business and business organisations to unlock more opportunities to increase exports.

“CBI Scotland is an important voice for businesses across the country, and an important critical friend and partner to the Scottish Government – so its help is vital.

“Together with our other partner organisations, we will work with CBI, whose membership includes some of Scotland’s most successful exporters, to play a key role in identifying export champions to work with our ambitious small and medium enterprises who are at the start of their export journey.

“We hope to create 100 new business to business mentorships each year - helping new exporters learn from experienced ones. I also look forward to attending the international business conference on exporting, in November, to progress our work on this together”.

The First Minister made clear that the Scottish Government’s ambition for exports, and wider economic success for Scotland, would not be defined by Brexit, despite the clear threat posed by the UK Government’s plans to leave the EU, single market and customs union.

She said:

“We believe that if Brexit has to happen, which we regret deeply, single market and customs union membership is the obvious solution – not simply for the transition period, but for the long term. It’s the least damaging economic solution and the most obvious democratic compromise.

“So the Scottish Government will do everything we can to argue for a common sense approach to Brexit in the weeks and months ahead. And we welcome the fact that business organisations will also be making their views known. We hope that that has a real influence, and that it helps to move the debate out of the world of fantasy and into the realms of reality.

“However Brexit cannot and will not define this Government’s actions. If anything, it increases the importance of getting on with the rest of our work – of building a strong society and a prosperous economy.”

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland Director said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to partner with the Scottish Government to support the next wave of Scotland’s pioneering exporters. By making this commitment to help those who already export but want to do more, we’re sending a clear signal about reviving Scotland’s historic reputation for global trade and staking our claim in the global economy.

“In last year’s Pursuing Prosperity report, we identified improving exporting as one of the key drivers for boosting productivity across Scotland. Business can’t achieve that alone – we need real partnership with government to achieve our ambitions and today’s announcement marks an important first step in that journey.”