Delivering economic transformation

Scotland’s inward investment and export growth plans.

Strategies to attract foreign investment and open up international trade for Scottish companies have reported successful results. 

Business Minister Ivan McKee told the Scottish Parliament that the export growth strategy, A Trading Nation, has delivered an additional £3 billion of planned international sales in its first three years. Goods exports are growing more quickly than the UK as a whole and Scotland is also the only part of the UK with a positive trade balance in goods with the rest of the world, exporting £2.2 billion more than it imported in 2021.

A separate progress report on the Scottish Government’s Inward Investment Plan highlights that enterprise agencies attracted 113 inward investment projects and a total of 7,780 jobs in 2021-22, with 39 new investors choosing to locate here. The latest EY Annual Attractiveness Survey 2022 showed Scotland remains the most attractive part of the UK outside London for attracting foreign direct investment.

Ahead of his update to Parliament, Mr McKee visited the Tartan Blanket Co. in Edinburgh to hear how it was aiming to increase international sales.

The Business Minister said:

“Despite unprecedented challenges for businesses and the economy, Scotland continues to punch above its weight on both exports and inward investment. A Trading Nation and our Inward Investment Plan have delivered important contributions to export growth and attracting inward investment to date. Delivery of these plans are key to Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“The plans help build on Scotland’s strengths to win an ever-greater share of domestic and international market opportunities, support the development of Scottish supply chains, lay the foundations of a net zero industrial strategy, and attract and deploy significant domestic and private investment in Scotland.

“Scotland can take huge confidence – based on the progress reports and the growth of companies like The Tartan Blanket Co. – that our trade and investment strategies remain the right approach to growing exports and attracting inward investment in the years ahead.”

Neil Francis, Interim Managing Director of Scottish Development International (SDI), the international arm of Scottish Enterprise, said:

“Global trade and investment is absolutely vital to Scotland’s economy and achieving the sustainable economic growth we all want to see.

“These progress reports underscore the strengths Scotland has on the international stage, both in terms of the attractiveness of our companies to global markets and as a location for companies to invest, locate and grow in. Our SDI colleagues based here and in target markets across the world will continue to bang the drum for Scotland, highlighting the incredible investment opportunities that exist here while supporting Scottish companies, such as The Tartan Blanket Co., export their world-class products and services overseas.”


Read more on A Trading Nation - Progress Review 2022

Read more on Shaping Scotland's Economy - Inward Investment Plan: Progress Report 2022

A Trading Nation was launched in May 2019 and focuses effort on key export market and high performing sectors. Work is currently underway on tailored export plans for the renewable energy and life sciences sectors, building on the Technology Sector Export Plan launched in March.

In the year ending March 2022, Scotland’s goods exports, excluding oil and gas, increased by 5.7% compared to the year ending March 2020, contrasting with a reduction of 2.9% in the UK over the same period.

Shaping Scotland’s Economy: Inward Investment Plan was published in October 2020, and the latest review sets out successful delivery to date and the next phase of implementation focused on attracting further investment to Scotland. The independent EY Annual Attractiveness Survey 2022 showed Scotland was second only to London as the UK’s favoured location for Foreign Direct Investment - also outperforming Europe in terms of the percentage increase in the number of projects attracted.

The Tartan Blanket Co.

The Tartan Blanket Co. was founded in 2014 by CEO Emma Macdonald and Fergus Macdonald and specialises in making woven blankets and scarves from recycled woollen items and sustainably farmed lambs’ wool and cashmere.

With support from SDI’s International Recovery Programme, the company has been developing its online presence in the USA via a new digital marketing project which is improving international visibility on business-to-business platforms plus retail and business-to-consumer sites.

As a result of this project, The Tartan Blanket Co. expects to see an increase of £1.4 million in exports over the next three years.

This internationally-ambitious Edinburgh company already exports to more than 70 countries and has benefited from wider SDI support encompassing export advice, funding towards trade exhibitions and introductions to international contacts.


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