Economy minister Keith Brown in Germany trip to test mood on Brexit threats
SCOTLAND’S MINISTER for the economy begins a two day Germany trade mission today [Monday 6 March] as part of the latest development of business ties between the two nations.
Keith Brown MSP will visit Hamburg and Berlin ahead of the establishment of a new mini-Scottish embassy in the country to place economic and political relations on a more formal footing.
German politicians have been the most open in supporting Scotland’s vote to remain within the European Union, and Europe Minister Michael Roth met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last August to discuss Brexit. In another low key example of a developing Scottish foreign policy, Sturgeon met with another German government minister Christian Schmidt in Edinburgh last week.
“Exports to Germany were worth £1.7bn in 2015 – more than 6 per cent of all Scotland’s international exports.” Keith Brown
The government describes Brown’s visit as an opportunity to “gather insights into perceptions of Brexit amongst German organisations and business communities”, however the main focus of the visit is described as the latest promotion of trade and investment.
Ahead of the trip, Brown said: “Scotland and Germany have long enjoyed a fruitful cultural and trading relationship, with its roots going as far back as the 12th century. Around 30,000 Germans by birth live in Scotland and almost 3000 students study in our universities, reinforcing this long-standing partnership.
“Trade between Scotland and Germany today is considerable. There are more than 150 German-owned enterprises operating at around 600 Scottish sites, employing almost 18,000 people with a turnover in excess of £4,000m. In addition, exports to Germany were worth £1.7bn in 2015 – more than 6 per cent of all Scotland’s international exports. We want to develop this further by supporting more companies to export to German markets, and safeguarding the investments that have already been made – and are planned to be made – in Scotland.
“Substantial opportunities to grow international trade and investment between Scotland and Germany exist in a wide range of different sectors and I will be meeting senior business leaders and the sectors of energy, hospitality and engineering as we seek to deepen and strengthen these important links.”
The Brexit issue – where Germany’s government and business community will have an important role – will also feature.
Brown added: “Clearly, Brexit remains a source of great uncertainty – for businesses in Scotland and in Germany alike – and I will reaffirm direct to businesses in Hamburg and Berlin that Scotland remains open for business and the Scottish Government believes that, short of EU membership, full membership of the single market is the best outcome not just for Scotland but for the whole of the UK.”
German MEP Elmar Brok, a senior foreign policy figure on the continent, warned the Tory government that if they try to divide the EU27 in Brexit talks: “We can make a big fuss over Scotland.”
Picture courtesy of Alliance Scotland
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