Firm foundations

In changing times, Scotland’s business relationship with the US remains crucial

By Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister

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A Nobel Laureate once wrote ‘The times they are a-changin’. Bob Dylan, influenced in part by Scottish ballads, penned those words in his anthem for change.

Although those words were written more than half a century ago, they continue to have currency. We still live in changing times. The past 12 months have seen events that are bringing about change in both our countries, with the election of the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the UK Government’s decision to leave the European Union and the world’s largest single market.

That latter was not one that was supported by the Scottish people. Scots have a strong history of looking outward, forging lasting alliances and relationships, seeking opportunities of mutual benefit, supporting innovation and embracing cultural diversity.
It is therefore crucially important that we send a strong and clear message to our friends and neighbors across the world – Scotland is open for business.

We are a trusted collaborator and partner and offer excellent opportunities for businesses and investors.

This may be a bold claim but it’s one that is backed up by evidence. For five of the past six years, Scotland has outperformed every other area in the UK except London in attracting Foreign and Direct Investment – and in the most recent year, 43% of those investments came from the US. Key areas for investment were in software development, financial and business services and in scientific research – a sector which is supported by some of the world’s best universities, with Scotland having five institutions amongst the top one per cent in the world.

Our Infrastructure Investment Plan –with $7.5bn of projects under construction or completed in the past year – sets out our program of long-term investment over the next 20 years, allowing us to consider issues of capacity and supply, support effective planning and provide certainty for investors.

However, it remains crucial for the continued success and growth of our economy that we seek, pursue and support new trade and investment opportunities. The development and growth of our cities is fundamental to achieving this.

The Scottish Government is working in partnership with the Scottish Cities Alliance and Scotland’s seven cities to support initiatives, projects and opportunities that will attract investment. 2016 was a landmark year for the Scottish Cities Alliance, with over $124.7m invested into cities, and with our Smart Cities program now entering its delivery phase, there is opportunity to catalyze some of the $9.4bn of further investment potential, using innovative financial models to lever in public and private investment.

We believe that there is a compelling proposition for further growth within our cities and their surrounding areas which is built upon Scotland’s global reputation for innovation, world class education and a highly-skilled workforce.

All of this says to investors that Scotland isn’t taking a passive role in the face of Brexit. It is saying that we are creating the conditions and that we have the projects that can make Scotland your investment opportunity of choice.