Media Release: SCDI Forum – Exporting key to resilient growth during Brexit and second independence referendum


EXPORTERS of all sizes are more productive, innovative and resilient to economic challenges – but first-time exporters will need more practical support and clear information, according to the chair of SCDI’s International Business Committee.

The SCDI Forum – ‘Brave New Worlds? Economic Growth & Wealth Creation’ – will today (Thursday 16 March) consider the challenges and changes facing our economy, with presentations and discussions on the new industrial strategy and inclusive growth, as well as the particularly pressing topic of how we raise our sights to grow the value of our exports.

Begins a spokesperson: “SCDI believes that the challenges around weak productivity – and a relatively small number of companies which account for most of our exports – must be addressed to strengthen Scotland’s economic performance in an unprecedented period of change.

“The First Minister’s announcement that she is proposing a second referendum on Scottish independence – and the agreement of the UK Parliament that the Prime Minister can trigger Article 50 for the UK to leave the EU – create uncertainty around the operating environment for business in the coming period.”

The agenda for day two of the SCDI Forum 2017 on Friday 17 March includes:

  • Mark Garnier MP- Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for International Trade, UK Government, who will discuss UK priorities for exports, inward investment and international trade relationships as Brexit approaches.
  • With the growth in self-employment the key issue to emerge from last week’s Budget, Diane Nicol, member – UK Government (‘Taylor’) Review & Partner, Pinsent Masons LLP, will discuss how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models, such as the Gig Economy.
  • Professor Richard A. Williams OBE - Principal and vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, the Scottish stakeholder on the UK Government’s EU exit, universities, research and innovation working group, will discuss the role of universities in supporting the delivery of a high value industrial strategy.
  • Richard Davies - Chief of staff at the LSE Growth Commission; and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers at HM Treasury and economics dditor at The Economist will discuss the Commission’s major new report, ‘UK Growth, A New Chapter’, on a post-Brexit strategy for modern labour markets, industrial strategy, ‘openness’ to trade and talent, and business finance and growth.

Michael Urquhart, chair of SCDI’s International Business Committee, said: “Brexit will fundamentally change our trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world.

“As global competition is growing and other countries, such as Germany through its business-led Industrie 4.0 strategy, work together to transform their strategy, products, working practices and skills, we must ensure we are not left behind.

“As a new UK industrial strategy is being developed and Scottish enterprise bodies are being reformed, complex negotiations are taking place on Brexit and Scotland’s place in the UK. We must increase the relatively small number of companies which account for most of Scotland’s exports.

“This will mean providing accessible support and as much clarity as possible for Scottish businesses, especially SMEs.

“The forum will explore key questions, such as how to encourage more companies to start or increase exporting, and improve support for inward investment?

“How will the working relationship between Scottish Development International and the UK Department for International Trade be maintained and strengthened to optimise the support for businesses?

“What are the prospects for Britain to agree a free trade deal with the EU and be ‘a global leader for free trade’?

|And how can we get more of our businesses and sectors, and people and places, performing at world-leading levels?

“Remaining a magnet for talented and skilled people, both home-grown and international, who want to study, work or build a business here is essential for growth and wealth creation, and we will also discuss the potential arrangements for immigration, including the economic priorities for the nations and regions of the UK.”


Notes for editors:

SCDI (Scottish Council for Development & Industry) is an independent and inclusive economic development network which seeks to influence and inspire Government and key stakeholders with our ambitious vision to create sustainable economic growth for Scotland. SCDI’s diverse and influential membership – across the public, private and social economy sectors – forms a gathering of knowledge, experience and talent which provides a dynamic and creative force for change.

SCDI Forum 2017: ‘Brave New Worlds? – Economic Growth & Wealth Creation’ conference takes place in Edinburgh on 16 and 17 March:

For further information, please contact:

Fraser Grieve, SCDI                   
T: 07747 444261

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