Scottish Government opens hub in Berlin to boost business links

When Rachel Loxton made the move from Aberdeen to Berlin in 2017 she joined a growing community of Scots choosing to live in Germany.

The Scottish Government hub in Berlin, which opened this week, aims to grow links between the two countries. Picture: Harald Helmlechner/Wikicommons

The freelance journalist was eager to take advantage of the European Union’s freedom of movement laws while they still applied to the UK pre-Brexit.

“There’s a huge number of Scots in Berlin and a big community here,” she said. “It also feels like a few more Scots have come over to Berlin in the last six months or so.”

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That community has since been boosted further by the opening this week of a Scottish Government hub in the German capital.

It aims to promote investment between German and Scottish businesses and organisations as well as expand Scottish Government influence and engagement with the EU powerhouse.

The country is already Scotland’s fourth largest overseas market, with exports worth £1.9 billion in 2016.

The German hub will complement the wider international network, covering London, Dublin, Brussels, Beijing and Washington DC. The hub will jointly house Scottish Government and Scottish Development International staff and is co-located within the British Embassy in the German capital.

External affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the opening this week as she undertook two days of engagements in Berlin.

This included the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Glasgow and Berlin Chambers of Commerce and meeting the organisers of the European Championships, the new multi-sport event jointly hosted in Glasgow and Berlin this summer.

Ms Hyslop said: “The opening of our Germany hub is a signal of our intent to continue to support deep and lasting links with our European neighbours. In light of Brexit, it is all the more important that we deepen those cultural, economic and diplomatic ties.

“The hub is a significant addition to our network as we seek to foster the relationships Scottish companies and institutions need to internationalise and grow. It will be a focal point for our engagement across the central Europe region.

“The new agreement between Glasgow and Berlin Chambers of Commerce is welcome and symbolises the close synergy and opportunities that exist between Scottish and Germany organisations.”

Around 30,000 German citizens live in Scotland, and there were 354,000 visitors to Scotland from Germany in 2016.

Germany is the third largest source of foreign direct investment into Scotland, with 155 German-owned companies employing nearly 18,000 people

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chambers of Commerce, said: “The signing of this agreement could not have come at a more appropriate time, with the uncertainty that the Brexit vote has brought to future trading relationships with Europe.

“Glasgow Chamber’s Board took the view that, whatever the outcomes from the negotiations, we should do our best to strengthen trading ties wherever we could, and this agreement shows that we are on the front foot in maintaining business links with Europe and not sitting back waiting on others to make decisions.”

The choice of Berlin for the Hub was welcomed by Ms Loxton.” Berlin is a diverse capital that is always looking to the future,” she said. “In some ways Germany is at the centre of things at the moment, for example regarding the refugee crisis and these changes taking place in Europe. I’d also hope the Scottish Government is keeping in touch with other German cities at a time like this.”