Quango is busy supporting trade

ERIKKA Askeland (Business Comment, 6 June) asks what the Scottish Council for Development and Industry "has been doing all this time" to promote Scotland's international trade.

In the past 12 months SCDI has, in a programme supported by Scottish Development International and UKTI, delivered trade visits to high-growth markets in India, South Africa, UAE, China and Hong Kong. A total of 54 businesses and organisations have participated, between them generating more than 3.5 million of post-visit business. At an annual cost of 50,000, this programme not only offers excellent value for money, but a supported and strategic opportunity for Scotland's SMEs to enter the global marketplace.

SCDI has excelled in creating and supporting market-focused international connections since 1960. In five decades we have led 360 cross-sector delegations to developing markets, enabling 5,000 businesses and organisations to engage with 50 markets across the globe and generating multi-millions of pounds of new trade, connections and opportunities.

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SCDI has played a key role in attracting inward investment in new industries, successfully attracting companies such as IBM, Honeywell and NCR. In 2010 delivering international growth is still a core policy priority for SCDI. We believe Scotland must set ambitious targets for international growth – not least an ambitious target to double the value of exports over the next decade.

Ms Askeland suggests Scots businesses "should get out more". In four weeks' time, 22 Scottish businesses will visit Shanghai and Hong Kong on an SCDI trade visit led by the First Minister Alex Salmond.

I hope she will join me in wishing them every success as they deliver on their own – and Scotland's – ambitions for international growth.

Janette Harkess, Director of Policy & Research, Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Glasgow