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I welcome the publication of
“A Trading Nation” and the additional investment that goes with it.
It is a comprehensive document, tracking where we are and the opportunities that we must try to seize. That it is to be a regularly refreshed working document will help us to track progress and allow changes to the strategy. It will also help us to build on the information that has been provided; although the information in it is better than what has been provided in the past, there are still gaps that need to be filled.
Our amendment notes that the Scottish Government missed its previous target to increase exports by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2017, with growth of 35 per cent over the period rather than the 50 per cent that was hoped for. Exports as a percentage of GDP reduced over the same period, which is disappointing. Although the rest of the UK remains our biggest market, its share of our exports reduced from 65 per cent to 60 per cent.
Those are challenges that we must meet in order to grow the economy and create jobs, which must be secure and well paid. Too much of our economy is based on low-paid, insecure work, which leaves people one pay cheque away from a food bank. That is not satisfactory; indeed, it is something that we must all unite against.
Our amendment speaks about small businesses. The report shows that by far the largest number of businesses in Scotland are those that have zero to 49 employees, but they are less likely to export than larger organisations. It is also well known that businesses of that size that seek to export are much more likely to be bought out by larger organisations. Often, those are multinational companies and they are seldom based here, in Scotland.
The report does not highlight that most of our exporters are not Scottish owned, such as businesses in the Scotch whisky and oil and gas industries. Foreign ownership means that we stand to lose taxation—