Ministerial Trade Board minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Ministerial Trade Board on 13th June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government

  • Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise (IMcK)
  • Richard Rollison, Director for International Trade and Investment (RR)
  • James McLellan, Deputy Director International Trade and Investment (JMcL)
  • Scott Strain, DITI (SS)
  • Colin Robertson, DITI (CR)
  • Catriona Galbraith, DITI (CG)
  • Michael Stawpert, Private Office (MS)
  • Kate Higgins, Special Adviser (KH)

Board members

  • Eric Balish, ABC Bank (EB)
  • Russell Dalgleish, Scottish Business Network (RD)
  • Gillian Docherty, University of Strathclyde (GD)
  • Simon Forrest, Nova Innovation (SF)
  • Richard Knox, Verlume (RK)
  • Sarah Lynagh, Fios Genomic (SL)
  • Paul Sheerin, Scottish Engineering (PS)
  • James Varga, DirectID (JV)


David Currie, Marcus Pickering, Gary White, James Withers, Jan Robertson, Samantha Paterson

Items and actions

Overview of the trade board and A Trading Nation

Opening remarks from the Minister and Director explained the purpose of the trade board in relation to our on-going delivery of A Trading Nation (ATN), and the criticality of businesses assisting us in assessing the challenges and opportunities for Scottish export growth.

CR and SS gave a presentation on ATN, on its principles, priorities, delivery to date and critical areas of activity moving forward. 

The board centred on the following points in discussion:

  • keen to understand the interaction between our international networks to maximise Scotland’s global coverage
  • keen to understand which companies are in which cohorts of the segmented model and better understand the types of support they receive. Officials referenced the role of SDI and on-going evaluation of ATN. The board also discussed the extent to which there is peer to peer support across cohorts, and the ability to track export growth through innovative approaches. Mr McKee asked for this to be explored further
    • action: presentation on smart segmentation of exporters to be given at the next board meeting and the team to explore options to support more peer to peer work
  • the importance of strong domestic performance for businesses, as a platform to internationalise and trade was re-enforced
  • the challenge across multiple sectors on attracting and retaining talent, on-shoring, securing materials, and resilient logistics were raised. The consensus was both the transition to net zero and operating in a post EU Exit context was likely to exacerbate these issues. The Minister noted these points, in the context of Scotland continuing to have a positive trade balance in relation to imports/exports, but agreed further work may be required in this area, noting interest from the board on green free ports in this context
  • the board discussed the role and benefits of export finance to exporters. There was a discussion around both current facilities, their visibility to companies, and business behaviours. There was a specific interest in the types of financial support required across company cohorts based on the segmented model
    • action: team to explore financial support across company cohorts further

  • the board was also interested in the evaluation of Scottish activity at the recent Dubai EXPO, and it was agreed to share this with them  
    • action: share evaluation of Dubai EXPO with the board once completed
  • the board also expressed an interest in providing oversight on both the development and delivery of sector export plans aligned to ATN
    • action: share sector export plans with the board for input


Based on the wide discussion under agenda item 1, the board identified initial propositions for a long list of options, around which thematic sub-groups could be formed. These included:

  • looking in-depth at the US market at a state level
  • looking at the opportunities to supporting individual sectors to network internationally
  • data and performance
  • scottish exporters supply chain resilience, including talent attraction and retention and on-shoring
  • promoting our export potential as we transition to net zero  
  • opportunities for improved peer to peer support within the segmented model

Some members of the board voiced interest in sub-groups and DITI will review these suggestions. An option paper on sub-groups for the board to consider will be forthcoming.

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