Scotland's International Policy Framework and priorities 2018: speech

External Affairs Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, addresses the Scottish Parliament on Scotland's International Policy.

Thank you Presiding Officer – I move the motion in my name on the Scottish Government's refreshed International Framework and Policy Statement.

The Scottish Government continues to have a strong and consistent commitment to international engagement. Internationalisation sits at the heart of Scotland's Economic Strategy alongside innovation, investing in our people and inclusion.

Scotland has a strong track record of international collaboration. We remain the second most attractive destination for foreign investors to the UK after London and in 2017, visitors voted Scotland the world's most beautiful country. The Edinburgh International Festival goes from strength to strength as a global forum for cultural exchange and last year we joined the 'Under 2 coalition' to express our determination, as good global citizens, to play our part in shared challenges and strive to limit global warming to two degrees.

We are alive to the constant need to build on and reinforce these strengths. As a result, we have recently refreshed the International Framework and Policy Statement.

These documents set out how our international work supports this Government's central purpose of creating a more successful country with opportunities for all to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth.

The first objective is to strengthen our external relationships and networks. Our international work is founded on partnerships with our people, our institutions and our partners inside and outside Scotland.

Our second objective focuses on building our reputation and international attractiveness. This includes strengthening and enhancing Scotland's reputation, boosting our trade and investment and striving to be a leader in areas such as climate change and equality.

The third objective is to enhance our global outlook, embedding internationalisation in everything we do and equipping the people of Scotland to capitalise on the vast number of global opportunities.

Finally, we will encourage engagement with the European Union and strive to protect Scotland's place in Europe.

Scotland has experienced significant social and economic change over the decade since we launched our International Framework, but no single event has had a greater impact than the result of the United Kingdom's EU Referendum. It now threatens to redefine Scotland's place in Europe and the world, affecting our ability to play a full and constructive part in international affairs. The international policy statement and underpinning framework are more essential than ever to communicate Scotland's open and welcoming approach.

Yesterday the First Minister launched the document 'Scotland's Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment' which presents the latest analysis by the Scottish Government of the implications for Scotland's economy and society if the UK exits the European Union. That analysis is clear - leaving the EU could result in a hit of up to 8.5% of GDP. EU Nationals remain key to our international competitiveness and the free movement of persons within the single market is helping Scotland to address the substantial demographic challenges we face.

All outcomes, short of full EU membership, will have some damage to Scotland's economic, social and environmental interests and a Brexit which results in the UK being outside the European Single Market and Customs Union will have the most damaging consequences for Scotland. This is not acceptable to the Scottish Government nor, we believe, to the people of Scotland.

Focusing now on our wider international priorities As Scotland's ambitions continue to grow, so does the importance of our country's international reputation and the need to work with others to contribute to the success of the global community. To enhance Scotland's reputation as a place to work, live, invest, study and visit, the Scottish Government and its key partners are working together to offer a coherent and compelling picture of modern Scotland to the world.

We will continue to focus on our priority countries – the United States, Canada, China, India and Pakistan. We will also continue to increase our engagement with Japan.

Just last month, the Deputy First Minister visited India accompanied by 11 Principals and Vice Principals from Scottish universities, as well as one college, to explore academic collaboration and investment from India into Scotland. 2017 was an important year for India as it celebrated 70 years of independence and the Deputy First Minister addressed over 2,000 members of the Indian community in Scotland at Murrayfield for the Independence Day celebrations in August, as well as hosting key international investors to boost the partnership between Scotland and India. During the UK/India year of Cultural exchange we also saw no less than 13 Scottish/India collaborations taking place in India and across Scotland.

In addition to our five priority countries our desire to strengthen engagement with Japan is a Programme for Government commitment. Since 2009 there have been six Scottish ministerial visits to Japan, the last of which was my visit in February 2017. Since that visit we have seen another very busy and successful period of collaboration between Japan and Scotland, especially in terms of increased trade, investment and cultural links.

Recent successes in Japan include the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Nippon Foundation and Scottish Enterprise in 2017, each party agreeing to up to ten million dollars of investment over five years for a Research and Development programme targeting the development of subsea technologies. My meetings in Japan played a key role in taking this forward.

So there will be many opportunities to recognise and encourage stronger engagement with Japan in the coming years as we look forward to the Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Of course, closer to home All Points North, the Scottish Government's Nordic/Baltic Policy statement was published in September 2017, and that refreshed policy document reaffirms our commitment to strengthening our links in that region promoting collaboration in policy exchange. Since that statement was launched in 2014 we have strong examples of this. The cooperation in the First Minister's Baby Box initiative from Finland, the tourism memorandum of understanding with Iceland, and the ongoing engagement with Norway around fisheries, science and negotiations. Looking ahead we will continue to promote the aims and objectives of the policy statement through our support for Nordic Horizons, our ongoing ministerial engagements and opportunities for policy workers to learn and exchange ideas with policy makers in that region.

In November, at the request of the Arctic Circle organisation and its chair Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the former President of Iceland, we hosted an Arctic Circle Forum to examine the theme of Scotland and the New North. This was the first time an Arctic Circle Forum was held in the UK and it was attended by over 300 delegates.

Partnerships across the Arctic region will be central in the coming decades to address shared environmental, demographic and economic challenges and opportunities: we are proud to be playing a leading role and have committed to developing an Arctic Strategy for Scotland.

And of course one of our long-standing engagements and relationships is with China, and only recently I represented Scotland as part of the UK's People to People Dialogue and exchange with the Chinese government in London.

Through our achievements to date, we have demonstrated that our reach is wide and that we have the ability to make a positive contribution as a good global citizen.

It is almost exactly a year ago that members debated the Scottish Government's dynamic new international development Strategy 'Global Citizenship', which brings greater focus and direction to our international development work. We have made good progress in implementing that Strategy, with the launch of new development programmes in Zambia and Rwanda; a new Malawi funding round; and expanding our successful Scottish Scholarships scheme for women and children in Pakistan.

We place great importance on Scotland being a good global citizen and in playing our part in tackling global challenges as part of our wider engagement with the international community. This has included providing training with the UN Special Envoy for Syria's Women's Advisory Group on the prevention and resolution of conflict. We have since committed to provide training and capacity building for 50 women a year from several countries.

Across all of our engagement we remain deeply aware of the values, commitment and contribution that Scotland and her people can bring to the international sphere. A human rights based approach informs all of our engagement, drawing on the deep commitment across Scotland to values and practice that respect our common dignity and humanity.

Presiding Officer, I am delighted to present this Government's new International Framework and Policy Statement to the Parliament today. Scotland will continue to seek opportunities across all policy areas for international collaboration to build upon our global reputation and to improve the lives of everyone who lives, works, visits or studies in Scotland.


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