Holyrood committee: Scottish Government ‘must do more’ for Scottish business in wake of Brexit

03.02.2017

A Holyrood Committee is urging the Scottish Government to give better support to Scottish business in ‘selling brand Scotland’ in Europe and across the world.

The call comes as the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee publishes an initial report on the impact of the decision to leave the EU on exports, inward investment, and labour and employment rights. The report also examines ways to mitigate the potential impact and seize any opportunities.

Key report recommendations as summarised include:

  • Trade promotion must be the focus of the Scottish Government going forward within the EU and beyond, especially for SMEs. Now is the time to maximise opportunities in growing markets such as China and India.
  • Given that we export more to the rest of the UK than to the rest of the world, the Committee recommends that the Scottish Government continues to support Scottish businesses in trading with the rest of the UK. 
  • As import inflation has already been felt by businesses, the Committee calls on the Scottish Government to report back on its strategy for dealing with this as a matter of urgency. It should include mapping out of supply chains and working with businesses to maximise opportunities for import substitution, including through the enterprise and skills review.
  • Access to the single market is vitally important to many exporting businesses in a number of sectors in Scotland; others are less dependent on this market. The Committee recommends the Scottish Government works to assist those businesses that are dependent on exporting to the single market to continue to operate and grow as the negotiations to leave the EU progress.
  • There is reliance in some sectors of the Scottish economy on EU labour, both skilled and unskilled. This should be highlighted to the UK Government and Scottish Government; work should continue to seek to address issues of skills gaps and workforce planning taking the EU referendum decision into account.

Convener of the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee, Gordon Lindhurst MSP said:

“The Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to re-double its efforts in encouraging and supporting businesses to export.”

“The need to support SMEs is more crucial than ever. The Committee cannot over-state the importance of continuing to promote the growth of indigenous businesses, and it is vital that the right balance is struck between supporting foreign direct investment and home grown businesses.”

Mr Lindhurst continued:

“Crucially, the valuable knowledge, experience and expertise of Scotland’s businesses should be central to any renewed policy. Scotland has always been an outward looking country that has much to give the rest of the world. The Committee is urging the Scottish Government and Enterprise Agencies to engage with businesses based in Scotland to understand what specific support is needed from sector to sector and region to region.”

Background

The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee’s report on the Economic Impact of leaving the European Union:
http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/103379.aspx

The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee scrutinises a broad range of topics within the remit of the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work including energy policy, the impact of the UK vote to leave the EU, fair work and matters relating to the Scottish economy. It comes to a view after taking evidence from, and engaging with, a wide range of stakeholders ‘on the frontline’ and applies authoritative, expert, effective and influential scrutiny to policy.

Photographs of the Committee and Convener are available free of charge.

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