Ministerial Trade Board minutes: April 2018

Minutes of the meeting of the Ministerial Trade Board held on 26 April 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work


  • Eric Balish
  • Russell Dalgleish
  • Rachel Jones
  • Karen Betts
  • Linda Steedman
  • James Withers


  • Michelle Crossan-Matos
  • Prof. Ferdinand von Prondzynski
  • Jane Richardson
  • Afzal Khushi
  • Martin Bell

Also in attendance

  • Mark Hallan, SDI
  • Jon Boyce, UK Export Finance

From Scottish Government

  • Kevin Quinlan
  • Stephen Pathirana
  • Sharon Donnelly
  • Suzanne Henderson

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

1.1 Mr Brown welcomed everyone to the fourth meeting of the Trade Board.

1.2 Mr Brown welcomed Stephen Pathirana as the new Deputy Director for International Trade and Investment. He also welcomed Jon Boyce, UK Export Finance, who is attending this meeting given the Board’s interest in this area.

1.3 Mr Brown noted that Ian Donnelly has stepped down from the Board due to work pressures and thanked Mr Donnelly for his tenure.

1.4 No additional agenda items had been notified to the Secretariat.

2. Notes of previous meeting and matters arising

2.1 The note of the previous Board meeting had been circulated in advance and had been agreed by all members.

2.2 The actions from the previous Board meeting were completed. The action points outstanding are:


At a future Board, a delegate from the Irish Investment Network to present on how Ireland approaches trade and investment opportunities - Prof. Ferdinand von Prondzynski.


A paper on the Digital Entrepreneurship Hub – Prof. Ferdinand von Prondzynski.

3. Update on key issues

3.1 Three papers were provided to members in advance of this meeting :

Enterprise and Skills Review – Internationalisation The Board received a short update on the review outlining the main areas of progress to date and will consider all the resources available to SDI including the SDI and SE offices overseas.

Trade and investment statistics

The Board received a short update on the new Analytical Unit which will be set up within the Scottish Government. One of the areas it will seek to address is the time lag in official statistics and the impact that can have in identifying trade priorities.

The Board discussed the value of developing a dashboard of key trade indicators. There was agreement that data on a comprehensive range of areas, including employment, labour market trends, company type, sector information and export market analysis would be very useful. This would also provide an economic focus between the Trade Board and the Strategic Board.

The Chair noted that the Scottish Parliament Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee had already undertaken some work in this area, which can be viewed here.


SG to provide members with a link to the new ONS experimental dataset on trade in goods, country-by-commodity (Completed on 27 April)


SG to approach Gary Gillespie, SG Chief Economist, regarding the creation of a trade dashboard and to report back to the Board.


SG to speak to Norah Senior, Strategic Board Chair, to discuss potential engagement on the proposed analytical work.

Innovation action plan and productivity

Following the discussion in December 2017 the Scottish Government provided an update on the Innovation Action Plan and offered engagement to members.


Members who wish to feed in their experience and views on how the SG can encourage a greater uptake of innovation to express their interest to the Board secretariat.

Scotland is Now

The Chair introduced the new branding for Scotland which was launched during his visit to New York for Scotland Week and the accompanying film was played to the Board. The Board agreed it would be a useful tool noting that companies and sectors should use it in a targeted way and as a mechanism to take Scotland to the world rather than just to attract the world to Scotland. The Chair highlighted that the branding comes with a developing toolkit which can be adapted to apply to specific needs.

4. Scottish Development International (SDI) Business Plan

The draft SDI Operating Plan was developed in collaboration with a range of partners and reflects the internationalisation principles already mentioned as part of the Enterprise and Skills Review. It also reflects the global geo-political environment, including Brexit.

A key aim is to build capacity, capability and ambition for companies to export for the first time, diversifying exports and mitigating risks of doing business internationally. On investment, the aim is for Scotland to continue to be the top location in the UK for inward investment and to focus on new opportunities with a view to expanding those new and existing investments. To support the inclusiveness agenda SDI will be expecting companies investing in Scotland to pay the minimum wage.

In markets where SDI does not have a presence, it will look to leverage additional support through its partners and use the Globalscots network to provide concrete connections. In Europe, the recruitment exercise to double the number of people working for SDI is nearing completion and this additional capacity will focus on new market opportunities.

The Board discussion raised a number of points, including:

  • the importance of language skills and the ability of companies to employ foreign nationals to support access to international markets
  • the implications of Brexit for key Scottish markets
  • mechanisms of support for companies to build their trade capability, capacity and ambitions, raising awareness of that support and making access as easy as possible, for example, through an online single point of access
  • appropriate mitigation of risk for companies entering new markets, including appropriate financial products for exporting companies
  • the role of the Trade Board in monitoring in-year performance measures and providing advice to SDI on where action may be required to meet targets


SDI to explore scope for an online single point of access to export support services.


SDI to provide a quarterly dashboard on performance to identify priority areas of action.

5. Accessing Export Finance – Presentation by UK Export Finance

The presentation covered 3 key aspects of their support to companies:

  • export insurance policy
  • Export Working Capital scheme
  • buyer credit

The presentation provided information on UK Export Finance’s purpose and its main areas of operation, noting the following points:

  • UK Export Finance does not compete with banks or other financial institutions but offers a range of financial products designed to complement those offered by the private sector
  • it works across all sectors and covers both goods and services. It can also cover overseas sub-contracting transactions
  • credit insurance is provided when there is market failure for countries not within the EU (except Greece) nor certain rich OECD countries if within a 2 years ‘risk horizon’
  • the application process is now more streamlined than previously and only one refusal of support from the private sector is required

Board members highlighted the need to raise awareness of UK Export Finance and its products. Members offered to share the information provided through their networks. The Chair commented that these services might be included in the single point of access for export support referred to above.

6. Protecting your Brand from Counterfeiting (EUIPO’s Enforcement Database)

6.1 The importance of companies, particularly exporters, to protect their brands from counterfeits was highlighted. Board members and their networks were encouraged to register with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

7. AOB

7.1 No other business was raised.

8. Next Meeting

8.1 The Chair indicated that he wished the Trade Board to be held in Scotland House in London, acknowledging that appropriate costs would be covered where those might be prohibitive for members. The Board agreed and suggested that the value could be maximised by exploring the potential for an associated business event. The next date of the meeting will be during the summer period possibly July or August.


Secretariat to organise the next meeting in Scotland House, London, and to seek opportunities for an associated business event.



J. McGarvey
Directorate for International Trade and Investment
Scottish Government
Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw
Glasgow G2 8LU

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