2014 a chance for Scots business to go global

THE Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and, of course, a referendum which will decide our constitutional future. The eyes of the world will be focused on us more than ever before.
Whisky is among Scotland's most valuable exports. Picture: TSPLWhisky is among Scotland's most valuable exports. Picture: TSPL
Whisky is among Scotland's most valuable exports. Picture: TSPL

For the business community, Scotland’s visibility on the global stage presents an opportunity to grow on an international level.

In 2011, the total value of international exports from Scotland – excluding oil and gas – was £23.9 billion. That is almost £4bn more than in 2008. Firms trading in areas such as food and drink and finance have embraced the global stage making it a core part of their growth strategies.

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However, exporting abroad doesn’t have to be the preserve of Scotland’s largest or even the most specialist industries. The latest Grant Thornton/ICAEW Business Confidence Monitor research suggests all sectors in Scotland are going through a cautious, long-term recovery. Sustainable growth and increased demand is now a reality enabling businesses to find new markets and expand.

The idea of finding a global market can be daunting but it shouldn’t be. While there is no room for complacency, Scotland’s business community is in a perfect position to tap into both established and emerging foreign markets.

The so-called BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China present vast opportunities with rapidly developing economies and increasingly wealthy citizens demanding high-quality products from countries such as Scotland. Meanwhile, long-established trading partners such as the US and Germany offer uncomplicated, consistent demand. With stable political and economic backdrops and historic relationships and arrangements, Western Europe and North America continue to top the list for Scottish exports for now.

Our international reputation is extensive – from our rich history in whisky to our growing influence in new manufacturing fields such as renewable energy.

Despite a cautious return to growth and uncertainty in the eurozone, 2014 is a year when Scottish businesses will have a golden opportunity to explore sustainable growth by embracing innovative practices and emphasising our reputation for heritage and quality.

• Debbie Mayor is associate director of corporate finance at Grant Thornton UK LLP