Businesses should look internationally to boost Scotland’s export base

After a year of great debate and change in Scotland, the country’s businesses and international investors will be looking for a period of stability so they can create jobs and growth for everyone, the CBI Scotland Chairman said in his New Year message today (Wednesday 31 December).

John Howie, CBI Scotland Chairman, said: “The New Year is a good time to reflect on the year past and look ahead to our hopes and ambitions for 2015.

“To say that 2014 was a momentous year for Scotland is a gross understatement, but it is worth reflecting on all we have achieved. Hosting incredible sporting events from the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year before Christmas, through to the MTV Music Awards, all showcased Scotland to the world.

“We have also conducted a unique and peaceful secession debate, with vast numbers of the population engaging in politics for the first time. The Scottish people’s voice was decisive and the business community was clear in their support for the continuation of the Union.

“2014 raised Scotland’s profile across the world and for 2015, with economic growth continuing to look positive and unemployment continuing to fall, my ambition is that we seize the moment and capitalise on this.

“Now, Scottish firms and international investors will want a period of stability and policy certainty, which will enable them to build on Scotland’s steady economic recovery and create growth and jobs for everyone across the country.

“We must look beyond our border and constitutional debate towards internationalisation, boosting our export base and developing robust and positive policy on the ‘bread-and-butter’ issues which underpin sound economic performance.

“The Smith Commission has made a number of sensible recommendations and we want to see all political parties get behind delivering these significant new powers to Scotland. We are also calling on the Scottish Government to set out how they plan to use these powers at the earliest opportunity.

“Connecting people via roads, rail and ports and enabling businesses to move products to market, improving digital connections to share information, affordable housing for people to live in and raise families, and secure, affordable energy are all vital to our economic and social fabric. The Scottish Government has already made significant progress in delivering some of this vital infrastructure and we urge it to keep up this positive momentum, as we take some difficult decisions, to ensure that the needs of tomorrow are met.

“2015 will be a year of change and challenge across the UK, Scottish businesses will need a stable and secure environment so that they can create the growth and jobs that all the people of Scotland deserve.”

Early in 2015, the CBI will be publishing a report on the Scottish education system, identifying areas where changes to the curriculum and qualifications are working well, but also where improvements must be made. It will highlight the business role in shaping an education system which equips our young people with the skills and work readiness that business in Scotland needs to stay competitive and that the young people need to develop rewarding and fulfilling careers.