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A Trading Nation

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 30th May 2019.

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Photo of Rhoda Grant Rhoda Grant Labour

I want to make some progress.

We lose out on corporation tax if the owner is a multinational, because it can choose where to pay its corporation tax, and that is often not in the UK. We also lose intellectual property to those companies. How often have we seen something that has been designed and developed in Scotland being manufactured abroad, losing not only the revenue but the jobs?

We know that small businesses tend to be more resilient. They do not have shareholders to answer to and they do not cut and run when times get tough, so they are much more likely to weather economic storms. The Scottish Government needs to support them to grow and prepare for exporting. That support must be direct, to give them the confidence to export and get the knowledge of the systems in place, but it must also help to mitigate the risk.

Many companies on the cusp of exporting are concerned about the risk of expanding into unknown markets. If they are approached with an attractive buyout offer at that time, the temptation to accept is great. They need to see that the rewards that they can accrue from exporting are greater than those of a quick sale. In addition, they need to be persuaded that the risks are manageable.

One example is the number of independent distilleries that are opening up in Scotland. Most are producing gin for the home market while waiting for their whisky to mature. The Government needs a strategy to help those companies to export while retaining their ownership in Scotland.

An industrial strategy is also missing. What are we looking to export? There are targets for food and drink exports, but the export strategy needs to sit on stronger foundations.