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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 James Kelly James Kelly Labour

It has been quite an interesting debate, in which we have had a number of good contributions from across the chamber. Although there has not been consensus in some areas, some stimulating points have been made.

It is right that the Government has developed “A Trading Nation” in an attempt to meet the export challenges that exist. As Jackie Baillie pointed out, the 50 per cent target that the Government set, which was based on 2010 figures, has not been reached; the figure is only 35 per cent. Therefore, the Government needs to look at how to address the shortcomings in its current export strategy. Maureen Watt made the good point that a lot of the strategy is based on a small number of firms. If we are to improve performance, a wider range of firms needs to export.

We also need to be wary of the type of arrangements that we get into. Patrick Harvie made many relevant points about trade justice, and Rhoda Grant pointed out that a lot of jobs in the economy are still woefully underpaid—nearly 500,000 people are not paid the living wage. The strategy needs to take account of those issues.

Digital issues were discussed by Dean Lockhart, Emma Harper and Willie Coffey. That is an important area. Dean Lockhart was right to point out how important it is to embed digital in businesses that are looking to export.