International Scotland report sets out key economic growth priorities for Scottish Government

Professor Mairi Spowage, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde.

INTERNATIONAL Scotland, an initiative led by law firm CMS and the Fraser of Allander Institute, has launched a new report setting out key business priorities to be addressed to ensure the nation’s economy can thrive. 

Focused on providing a platform to promote economic growth, International Scotland was launched last year with an initial report setting out the opportunities for growth across key sectors such as sustainable tourism, food & drink, life sciences and renewable energy. This was followed by a series of engagements across the nation with business leaders, Scottish Government ministers and policy groups including Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Economics and Enterprise Committee, Scottish Development International, and Women’s Enterprise Scotland.

The latest report, which reflects the core viewpoints raised within these discussions, sets out the potential benefits of Scottish Government ministers implementing focused policies to support the nation’s key sectors. This includes considering the reinstatement of tourism as a key remit for the Scottish trade minister. The industry had been at the heart of the former trade minister Ivan McKee’s brief but was removed from any form of ministerial representation when First Minister Humza Yousaf carried out his first cabinet reshuffle in March.

The International Scotland report also highlights the need to address barriers in the planning system to ensure Scotland can deliver key infrastructure projects, build more housing and fully maximise the opportunities of the green economy. It says current planning rules are presenting a key challenge in attracting investment into the green economy. 

Scotland’s green economy potential supported by its natural resources and its higher education institutions which have more university students enrolled in green-related subjects per head of the population than anywhere in the UK is a key opportunity flagged by the report’s authors. However, they have also raised concerns that more focus is required to support oil and gas workers in transferring their skills towards sustainable energy sectors with calls for the Scottish Government to work more closely with the industry to achieve this outcome. 

Professor Mairi Spowage, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “This latest report is the culmination of wide-ranging discussions we’ve held with business leaders from across Scotland, economic and policy groups, and Scottish Government ministers. The key findings in the report reflect both the opportunities that lie ahead as well as the challenges that we need to address in growing our economy and provide a useful focus for the new administration at Holyrood. 

“This includes the development of the green economy where Scotland has a huge advantage through its natural resources and a strong emerging skills base thanks to the efforts of our education institutions.” 

Allan Wernham, Managing Director of CMS Scotland, said: “Through our close engagement with businesses and policy groups, a consistent theme emerged that many believe planning is presenting a barrier to economic growth. By addressing this we can create a more positive perception of Scotland among global investors and tackle key challenges in progressing the energy transition, creating essential new infrastructure, and building more homes that are needed in our communities.

“The International Scotland report amplifies the call from the business community for increased focus from the Scottish Government with innovative policies that will help generate further investment and promote economic growth. Along with the many business leaders and organisations involved in this initiative, we believe this approach will enable Scotland to capitalise on its advantageous position and become a world leader in the green economy and in other key industry sectors.”

A full copy of the latest International Scotland report is available here

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