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International Trade Links

Volume 725: debated on Wednesday 11 January 2023

3. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on strengthening Scotland’s international trade links. (902929)

6. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on strengthening Scotland’s international trade links. (902932)

Scotland is, of course, already benefiting from the United Kingdom’s independent trade policy. To date, we have signed 71 trade deals with non-EU countries and the European Union, which were worth £808 billion in 2021. We have further high-value deals in sight with the trans-Pacific region, India and the Gulf states. My priority is to ensure that Scotland’s best interests continue to be represented in our ambitious programme of free trade agreement negotiations.

The UK Government have an extensive overseas network via its embassies, the British Council and so on. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that the UK Government work collaboratively with Scottish businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, and the Scottish Government to maximise opportunities and utilise resources to best promote the Scottish brand and businesses overseas?

Our response to the recent Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into promoting Scotland internationally highlights the wide range of activities that the Scotland Office, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Department for International Trade are undertaking around the world to promote Scottish interests across diverse areas, including trade and investment. UK Export Finance has provided £2.1 billion to Scottish companies since 2016-17, supporting a range of businesses, including food processors, hydro research, manufacturing and renewable energy. Our approach to attracting foreign investment in Scotland is driven by the Office for Investment, which launched in 2020. The successes of the programme are clear, with 4,408 new jobs created by overseas investment.

Does the Minister agree that the United Kingdom securing the double taxation agreement with Brazil, with its 212 million population, is a very significant event for many Scottish exporting businesses, and that the UK’s work to agree geographical indication for Scottish whisky in Brazil will help secure even more jobs in Scotland?

Yes, I do agree, and I commend my hon. Friend for his efforts as the Government’s trade envoy to Brazil. As he will know, Scotland exports the most goods from the United Kingdom to Brazil, so it stands to benefit greatly from the agreement on double taxation, when implemented. Given the importance of the Brazil export market, I also share his ambition of securing GI protection for Scottish whisky in Brazil as soon as possible, with the obvious benefits this will bring to both producers and consumers of our national drink.

Mr Speaker, I assume you will be surprised and delighted to learn that last summer a Bollywood biopic was filmed in Caithness in my constituency. That was a lot of dosh being spent in the north of Scotland. Screen tourism brings in almost £65 million for Scottish businesses, and more than half the people in the UK think that Scotland is one of the finest film and TV locations. Can I ask the Minister what he will do to promote Scotland as one of the best film locations in the world?

I very much agree with the hon. Member’s points about the Scottish film industry. I know he had a distinguished career on the stage during his time in the pantomime season. There is a real opportunity here for Scotland. We can see the benefits for Scottish tourism of TV shows such as “Outlander” and the BBC’s recent “The Traitors”. I am meeting those from VisitScotland next week, and I look forward to discussing these opportunities further with them.

I do not know where all this tosh that we have heard comes from this morning, but the reality of trade arrangements in Scotland and the UK is that, because of Brexit, £15 billion less was spent in the last quarter of 2022 than would have been. What does the Minister have to say to businesses in Scotland suffering under this calamitous Brexit that they did not vote for, and when is he going to do something—or anything—that will help Scotland to escape this Brexit disaster?

I know the hon. Member and the SNP have historically been anti-trade, but this Government are unquestionably committed to expanding trade opportunities for Scotland. Trade continues to grow, trade continues to be an opportunity for the Scottish economy and trade creates jobs for Scotland.