Ministerial Trade Board minutes: September 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Ministerial Trade Board, held on 15 September 2020.

Attendees and apologies


Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation

Chair: Stephen Pathirana – Deputy Director Trade and Investment

Trade Board Members

Karen Betts, SWA

Laura Birrell, Sticky Heelz

Russell Dalgleish, Scottish Business Network

Rachel Jones, SnapDragon

Afzal Khushi, Trespass

Kate Little. Digital Six

Kevin Norris, Nova Innovation

Linda Steedman, ECom

James Withers, Scotland Food and Drink

Also in attendance

Neil Francis, Head of Trade, SDI

Carl Gardiner, SDI

Siobhan McDermit, SDI

Scottish Government:

Clare Pierotti, Inward Investment Policy

Sean Murchie OCEA

Georgia-Lee Smith OCEA

David McPhee, Head of Trade Support

Shane Ali, Trade Support

William Gray – Trade Support

Samantha Paterson, Trade Support

Evette Griffiths Trade Support

Kate Higgins, Special Advisor


Lynne Grieve SDI

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed the group, outlining the attendance as above

Reflections from the Minister

The Minister thanked the board for their continued participation and reflected on the current economic climate, stressing the importance of leveraging business knowledge and insight as being one key element in navigating out of the crisis successfully.

Item 1 – Overview of the FDI Plan

The Board were presented with an update on the Inward investment Plan, highlighting Scotland’s performance, ambition and opportunities for the future; including the role inward invest will play in our economic recovery

Discussion points:

  • The Inward Investment Plan will be published 8 October
  • Plan will need to link skills needed by investors with educational focuss to ensure all needs are being met
  • The young workforce needs flex to be able to respond to economic changes, how are inward investors surveyed to ensure requirements are known and met
  • Skills should be used as an attractor for inward investment

Item 2 – Businesses and Ecommerce

Colleagues from OCEA provided an update on eCommerce in Scotland, including detail on trends, the impact of Covid-19 and the development of digital trade beyond e-Commerce. This was followed by a presentation on International e-Commerce by SDI with the item concluding with a presentation from the newly established e-Commerce sub-group and their initial outputs

A) Evidence Review by OCEA

B) Ecommerce Advisory Service

C) e-Commerce Sub Group Outputs

Discussion points:

  • More so than ever, the economy is much broader than trade, real work is needed to support and drive economic growth
  • Momentum has shifted from B2B to B2C with many businesses not knowing or understanding their consumers, support is needed for business to understand this change
  • It would be useful for data to be collected more frequently
  • Development of Scottish platforms is vital to prevent business using American ones
  • Scotland needs to be positioned as an attractive place to work, incentives such as real estate should be considered
  • Business has been supporting Public Health measures and therefore should be supported by Scottish Government in return

Item 3 – Trade Recovery and Reprioritisation 

The third item opened with a joint presentation by Trade Promotion and Support and SDI on the reprioritisation of a trading nation to account for the impact of Covid-19

  • ATN Reprioritisation focused how key elements and areas of the initial plan (such as sectors, key exporters, the Top 1200, etc/) remain unchanged, but the need to stream activity with more rigour and acceleration.
  • SDI’s Trade Recovery Plan compliments ATN, with some shifts in business support to take account of the pandemic.

Discussion points:

  • Maintenance of budget for continued export with the EU is vital
  • Concerns on the impact of no deal and the unpreparedness of some companies; especially in relation to potential tariff requirements and the administrative burden
  • Broad support for other sub-groups to be established, once we can determine key focus points, and desired outputs.

Item 4 – Closing comments from the Minister

Encouraged all Trade Board members to continue the flow of dialogue with officials to ensure the conversation is driven forward.

Item 5 – AOB.

  • Consider date of next meeting
  • Secretariat to work with Board members on developing future agenda and structure
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