Scottish Chambers of Commerce have been put centre-stage of a £400,000 new international business development plan by the Scot-Govt to boost overseas sales from Scotland.
In this new plan, the Scot-Govt will create a new Scottish Board of Trade (a 150-year old business brand’ abolished by the UK Govt) and double the number of Scottish civil servants based in the EU.
With this new support from the Scottish Government, both the national body – as well as local chambers of commerce – could also provide an enhanced international role in promoting Scottish energy exports; for instance, oil and gas from Grampian chamber, and renewable energy know-how and consultancy services from Glasgow chamber.
The Scottish First Minister also announced new ‘hubs’ will be set up in Brussels, Berlin, Dublin and London to ‘boost Scotland’s business profile’.
Speaking tonight (1 December) at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce annual address tonight in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon said:
“The Scottish Government will provide £400,000 to the Chambers to support new business-led trade missions and forge new trading alliances between Chambers here and abroad. That is a boost to the resource already committed by the Chamber network and will contribute to our shared efforts to boost internationalisation.
“Internationalisation is a key part of our economic strategy and we are stepping up efforts to raise Scotland’s profile and encourage more Scottish businesses to export.
“Scotland’s ability to benefit from international trade depends hugely on our continued place in the European single market – the biggest of its kind in the world – and we are exploring all avenues to maintain our membership of it.
“At the same time, we are establishing new hubs in London, Dublin, Brussels and Berlin to boost our business profile.
“And we will double the number of people working for Scottish Development International on mainland Europe.
“We are also appointing trade envoys and creating a new Board of Trade to promote exporters overseas and encourage new companies to internationalise. But we can still do more.
“The membership of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, more than 11,000 companies, already has ties to more than 180 countries and so are ideally placed to make new overseas links with businesses and Chambers, which will complement the activities of Scottish Development International <part of the Scottish Enterprise national economic development agency>
“The Scottish Government will provide £400,000 to the Chambers to support new business-led trade missions and forge new trading alliances between Chambers here and abroad. That is a boost to the resource already committed by the Chamber network and will contribute to our shared efforts to boost internationalisation.”
Sturgeon also announced that Nora Senior, Chairman of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, has been appointed as one of the first members of the Scottish Government’s new Board of Trade, which aims to encourage new companies to internationalise.
A spokesman for Scottish Chambers of Commerce commented: “This marks a significant new step in our long-standing drive to use the power of the international Chambers network to drive more exports from Scotland. We are now ready to turbocharge that effort.
“It has long been our belief that exploiting grass roots business-to-business international connectivity via the unparalleled reach of international Chambers of Commerce has the potential to deliver a revolution in the way our SMEs trade overseas.
“Combined with the support of Scottish Development International and the influence of Scotland’s international diaspora in key target markets, this will put our network in a position to have real measurable impact in boosting Scotland’s exports – resulting in jobs, growth and wealth.”
Meanwhile, N. Sea crude oil prices rose by another 4.5% today to $50.19 barrel – the highest level this year – following the announcement of a three per cent cut in output by OPEC.
However, in a recently published industry survey by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, a senior oil operator said: “Don’t expect any good news until oil prices hit $87-barrel.
“We expect 40% of operators will go bust in the next year, due to losses and negative cash flow. This will bring down many service companies and create more redundancies.”