Scotland to double its EU global trading departments and open new Berlin office


Investment in trading network will increase economic and diplomatic opportunities

THE INTERNATIONAL trading network for Scottish businesses will see a doubling of its European staffing capacity, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

Scottish Development International (SDI), an arm of business quango Scottish Enterprise, already operates over 40 offices in 20 countries across the world and recently expanded to Dublin.

Sturgeon said this capacity would be increased, including the launch of a new trading office in Berlin – at the heart of the European Union’s largest economy. 

“We will establish permanent trade representation in Berlin – adding to our investment hubs in Dublin, London and Brussels,” she told SNP conference. “And, fourthly, we will more than double the number of Scottish Development International staff working across Europe: men and women whose job it will be to market Scotland as an open economy and welcoming society.”

SDI currently has around 240 staff, out of a budget of approximately £17.1m for ‘internationalisation’ in 2013/14. Plans to increase the reach of SDI in the European Union coincide with the Scottish Governments ongoing charm offensive with the 27 EU members states and with European institutions. The government hopes that Scotland can maintain it’s place within the European single market either while staying within the UK or becoming an independent country.

“We will establish permanent trade representation in Berlin – adding to our investment hubs in Dublin, London and Brussels.” Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government previously planned to expand its trading network to between 70 and 90 embassies in the event of a Yes vote for independence.

Although Scotland cannot expand representation on an independent basis, there are a number of devolved areas where Scotland can develop policies for trade, international development and diplomacy.

The previous Scottish Executive launched a development project with Malawi in Africa, which has continued under the Scottish Government.

The government has also taken positions on a number of diplomatic issues including supporting the recognition of a Palestinian state and engaging in Syrian peace training forums with the United Nations. 

Scotland is also represented on the British and Irish Parliamentary Authority and the British and Irish Council. Scotland takes part in deliberations in Brussels surrounding European legislation.

In practice, Scotland remains excluded from direct participation in formal discussions at the European Union and United Nations.

Other countries where there is substantial support for independence – such as Catalonia and Quebec – have expanded diplomatic networks to support national policies.

Picture courtesy of Charles Clegg 

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