For Scottish businesses, Brexit represents the opportunity to strengthen established trading relationships and forge relationships with the world’s fastest growing economies.
We have seen exports of Scottish goods rise quicker than those from any other part of the UK last year – up an impressive 19 per cent on the year before.
I may be based in Westminster, but I’ve been listening to views around the UK since my appointment earlier this summer. I know the Scottish people want to have their fair say in Brexit and want what’s best for Scotland. Together, we share that collective ambition.
Now is the time to get around the table and have a constructive debate that puts the needs of the Scottish people first.
I’m delighted to host the first round of 12 events across the UK talking about future trade. I will meet with business leaders, Members of Scottish Parliament and the Trade Justice Movement. I want to hear a range of views about how Scottish people want to shape the UK’s future trading relationship with the world.
I want to hear from the public, too, so I urge you to seize the opportunity to have your say by taking part in our four online consultations.
You have until 26 October to let us know your thoughts about prospective new agreements with the USA, Australia, New Zealand and on the UK’s potential membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This last group includes 11 countries around the Pacific rim, including the likes of Japan and Mexico.
These countries are significant to Scotland, accounting for £1 in every £5 of Scottish goods exports. The USA, for example, is second biggest market accounting for 12 per cent of goods by value and CPTPP countries account for a further nine per cent.
With 90 per cent of global economic growth projected to come from outside the EU, Scotland is well placed to take advantage of these diverse markets.
I have no doubt that success in Scotland will be instrumental if the UK is to achieve the ambitions set out by Liam Fox to substantially increase the amount we export, which in turn increases prosperity for all of us.
Trade affects everybody. I urge all of you holding an interest to play your part in helping shape the UK’s independent trade policy for the first time in more than 40 years.
To give people every opportunity to respond, our consultations are open for 14 weeks, longer than the EU holds its trade consultations for.
So make your voice heard – that website address once again is: consultations.trade.gov.uk George Hollingbery is a UK Government trade minister