Scotland's International Framework: US engagement strategy (draft)

This is the draft version of our strategy for engagement with the US. The final version was published in March 2017.


The connections between Scotland and the US are strong, enduring and of such a scale that the US has remained Scotland's most significant international partner for many years.

Historically, Scotland and the Scots have played a profound role in American political, commercial and cultural life. The influence and attraction of the US resonates throughout Scottish society. More than 5 million Americans identify themselves as of Scottish descent, with nearly 3 million more as Scots-Irish. [1] This plan builds on that relationship, making the most of existing connections, creating new ones, and working together with partners in the US for our mutual benefit.

The US is Scotland's largest overseas market for exports, worth an estimated £4 billion in 2014 [2] , as well as the largest source of foreign direct investment [3] . Scotland attracts more visitors from the US than from any other overseas market, accounting for 16% of all of inward tourism visits and 23% of spending by international tourists. [4]

In addition to the economic benefits of the relationship, the US and Scotland share many aspirations and common challenges. We will work with partners across the US to provide leadership on issues such as the low carbon economy, an ageing population and the challenges and opportunities posed by disruptive new technologies. These and other challenges are best tackled through close collaboration, sharing our experience and the best of our expertise.

Scotland's international ambitions

One of the priorities of Scotland's Economic Strategy is internationalisation. The Trade and Investment Strategy published in March 2016 and the Phase 1 report of the Enterprise and Skills Review published in October 2016 both stress the importance of an open and international economy in achieving inclusive growth and prosperity. Our co-operation with the US fully supports these ambitions. The aims of internationalisation are defined in Scotland's International Framework:

  • To create an environment within Scotland that supports a better understanding of international opportunities and a greater appetite and ability to seize them; and
  • To influence the world around us on the issues that matter most in helping Scotland flourish.

Strategic objectives for engagement with US

Our International Framework has four strategic objectives, which set the context for our engagement with other countries. This strategy seeks to apply those objectives to our relationship with the US, making the most of existing connections while broadening the relationship in new and emerging areas of opportunity.

The strategic objectives apply across a broad range of sectors and issues. In our engagement with the US, we will focus on a number of key areas identified in the Scottish Government's Trade & Investment Strategy. [5] These include:

  • Premium consumer products and services
  • Digital, technology and high value manufacturing
  • Skills, knowledge and innovation
  • Healthcare and wellbeing
  • Low carbon

In addition, we will share ideas and best practice in priority policy areas for Scotland, drawing on the Programme for Government. [6]


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