Trade Representation (Berlin)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 October 2016.

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Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on how it plans to establish a permanent trade representation in Berlin. (S5O-00261)

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

As the First Minister announced on 15 October, the Scottish Government will create a permanent presence in Germany by setting up an innovation and investment hub in Berlin. Staff numbers and precise resource requirements, including the hub’s specific location, will be determined as soon as possible. Germany has been selected because it is at the heart of the European Union and offers significant opportunities for enhanced collaborative working with Scotland in areas such as manufacturing.

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

Can the cabinet secretary explain further the ways in which that initiative will build on Scotland’s current positive relationship with Germany and other European nations?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

As I highlighted in my first response, Germany is consistently one of our top five export destinations and a critical market for our tourism industry, and it is our third largest inward investor after the US and France. It is at the political heart of Europe, and the Berlin hub will allow Scotland to build on our existing relationships with European partners and—vitally—to increase trade and investment.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

The First Minister’s announcement on increasing trade representation in Berlin is welcome. However, can the cabinet secretary tell members whether additional staff will be recruited for that purpose or whether staff will simply be transferred from other responsibilities in Scottish Development International? Is additional money available? If so, how much?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

The First Minister said, in her statement to which Jackie Baillie referred, that there would be a doubling of SDI staff across the board. The hub in Germany will bring together staff from the Scottish Government, VisitScotland and SDI on the basis that the number of SDI staff will double, which should increase our presence.

We would be happy to do much of that work in any event, but it is increasingly important and urgent because of the forthcoming consequences of the Brexit vote.

Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party

One of Berlin’s successes has been the huge level of investment in the reintegration of the eastern half of the city, including the refurbishment of older housing stock. Will any new trade mission have a remit to consider how such construction activity could benefit Scotland?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

As I mentioned, Berlin is at the heart of the EU and presents significant opportunities for enhanced collaborative working with Scotland in areas such as manufacturing. We will explore potential in the priority areas that are outlined in our trade and investment strategy, including digital technology, which was raised with the First Minister at the national economic forum earlier this week; high-value manufacturing; healthcare; and the low-carbon sector. We are being proactive to ensure that we increase our trade not only to try to make up for what we foresee as the consequences of Brexit but to increase inclusive economic prosperity in Scotland.