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Scottish Business Voice: Scottish Businesses Ambitious for International Growth

Posted: 9th April 2015

The Scottish Business Voice Campaign, led by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network, will present a series of Business Asks to inform the role our Governments and politicians can play to build on Scotland’s key strengths and opportunities.

Today, Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network puts forward its “Business Asks” to enable more businesses to internationalise and expand Scotland’s reach across the globe.

The Scottish business community is asking that:-

• Scotland and the UK must remain within the European Union, ensuring that Scotland’s businesses continue to benefit from the single European market, which is worth £12.9 billion a year to Scottish exporters, supporting Scottish jobs.

• More readily available export finance and more cohesive, locally tailored, offerings, contributing to the growth in the number of Scottish exporters to 20,000 by 2025.

• International languages of business must be mandatory in the education curriculum from Primary 1 onwards and opportunities for overseas study must become mandatory for university degrees by 2020.

• Immediately devolving and abolishing Air Passenger Duty to ensure that the cost of air travel is reduced by £251m per year, enabling the creation of at least 3,800 jobs and £1 billion of additional economic value to Scotland by 2020.

• Develop a world-class, global business-to-business network to support and develop Scotland’s businesses, including developing a distinct Scottish international brand and providing direct mentoring support to prospective Scottish exporters by 2016.

Liz Cameron OBE, Director and Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“A number of Scotland’s businesses are already succeeding on a global scale but there are simply not enough of them. If we are to become a more dynamic, broadly based and growing economy, then many more businesses will need to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by international trade. This is the time for us, the Scottish business community, to take the lead and for the Chamber Network to utilise our unparalleled international business connections, tapping into the potential of new international markets and orders.

“Our Governments have historically set targets for increasing the value of our international exports. This has merit, but a welcomed additional target would be to increase the number of Scottish businesses involved in exporting, both in goods and services. This is an area where we are lagging behind as a nation and which urgently needs to be addressed. We need a change of direction and speed in relation to how we engage and support businesses on the ground to ensure they are equipped, informed and supported to turn these opportunities into new orders, creating new jobs. This imperative has been recognised this week by the independent Cole Commission, which has recommended a bold new partnership approach between Government and business on international trade.

“If we want to be more international, then we need to think more international, beginning in our schools, where international business languages must be taught from primary school right through to the end of secondary schooling and beyond. Over the past two decades, the number of students studying modern languages at Higher or equivalent has fallen by over 20%. This is a damaging trend which needs to be reversed. We should look more closely at where economic growth will be attained and that should determine the languages delivered by the supply side, ensuring the curriculum reflects needs of business more.

“Business has fought a long and successful battle to persuade the UK Government to agree to devolve Air Passenger Duty to Scotland. This must now be done without delay and the Scottish Government must act immediately to abolish this tax on trade. Edinburgh Airport last month predicted that even the Scottish Government’s planned 50% cut in the tax could deliver almost a million additional passengers per year through Scotland’s airports by 2020, supporting around 3,800 new jobs and producing £1 billion of additional economic value to our economy by 2020. 

“Firms have told us that remaining as part of the EU single market is in the best interests of Scotland with current and future exporters citing the EU as their main target market for exporting goods and services. By all means seek reform, for example around what constitutes state aid and how we can make public procurement work for small businesses in Scotland, but having yet another referendum in Scotland would create uncertainty and, as Scottish business leaders, our energy and efforts are, and will continue to be, devoted to growing our economy and creating jobs.”

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