Trade and investment briefing

Keith Brown meets Consular Corps.

Scotland is a country that is “confident, outward facing and open for business”, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown said today.

Giving a trade and investment briefing to the Consular Corps, Mr Brown highlighted that the Scottish Government firmly believes that EU membership delivers many social, economic and cultural benefits for individuals, business and communities.

The paper published by the Scottish Government last month – “Scotland’s Place in Europe” – puts forward proposals to keep Scotland, and preferably the whole of the UK, in the European Single Market.

The Scottish Consular Corps represent 57 countries, 15 of which are full diplomatic consulates while the others are honorary consulates.

Mr Brown said:

“I am pleased to have had the opportunity to speak to consuls general and diplomatic staff based here in Scotland about our vision of this country’s future in Europe, and the vital importance of our continued place in the European Single market for jobs, investment and long-term economic wellbeing.

“Our ability to create a more productive and fairer Scotland depends more than ever on trading with the rest of the world, and on attracting investment into our economy – and Brexit is far and away the biggest threat to that economic success.

“This Government is bringing forward an ambitious programme of internationalisation, including measures to broaden Scotland’s export base and to grow exports beyond traditional markets. Recent years have seen strong performance for Scottish exports and for inward investment into Scotland.

“We are clear that now, more than ever, Scotland must be – and must be seen to be – a country that is confident, outward facing and open for business.

“After the EU referendum result, we committed to explore all options to protect Scotland’s national interests, in order to respond to the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland, and the national Parliament of Scotland.

“Our paper, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”  meets that commitment and is the first, and only, detailed plan for dealing with the implications of Brexit to be published by any government in the UK.  At its heart are proposals to keep Scotland, and preferably the whole of the UK, in the European Single Market of 500 million people and stop the disaster of a hard Brexit, which could cost 80,000 Scottish jobs within a decade and cost people an average of £2,000 in wages.

“Keeping our place in the world’s biggest single market – which is around eight times larger than the UK’s alone – matters hugely for our economy and to jobs, trade, living standards and investment.  

“The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to maintaining our place in the European Single Market, and that is the message I reinforced to our European partners.”

Membership of the single market has reduced barriers to trade with the EU by:

  • eliminating tariffs, quotas and duties;
  • harmonising rules and regulations;
  • allowing Scottish businesses in various sectors to establish companies to provide services in other member states;
  • allowing financial service firms in Scotland to provide services to the EU;
  • allowing EU citizens to live and work anywhere in the EU.  


Ministerial Briefings are held every 3 to 4 months with the Consular Corps to keep them abreast of Government policies and initiatives. At the most recent briefing (September 2016), the Consuls expressed an interest in trade and investment and the result of the EU referendum and the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs suggested the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work host a briefing on Scotland’s Trade and Investment Strategy and to reiterate that Scotland remains open for business.

Trade and investment benefits to Scotland:

  • 42% of Scottish International exports go to the EU and 8 of Scotland’s top 12 export destinations are in the EU.
  • Scottish exports to the EU were worth £11.6 billion in 2014 and associated with over 300,000 Scottish Jobs in 2011.
  • 79% of investors listed access to the EU single market as an important element of the UK’s attractiveness for investment.
  • Any relationship with the EU short of full membership of the single market risks increasing barriers to trade, reducing exports and lowering migration, all of which will affect growth rates and reduce productivity.
  • It is estimated that being outside the single market could cost the Scottish economy 80,000 jobs, and workers could lose £2,000 a year after a decade of a hard Brexit.
  • The EU Customs Union also removes barriers to trade with non-EU countries through 36 FTAs negotiated by the EU which cover 53 markets, reducing tariffs on goods and delivering some access to the market in services


Media enquiries

Back to top