I am very pleased to introduce this second annual report on our progress towards implementing Scotland’s Vision for Trade (the Vision). Last year’s report set out the concrete actions we took to implement the Vision in its first year. It also outlined a range of actions we proposed to take over the second year of implementation, which support our economic, social and environmental ambitions. This report outlines the progress we have made on those commitments.
Earlier this year, the First Minister set out three interlinked missions of growing a fairer and greener economy, seizing the opportunities of net zero, and creating better communities. We have used the Vision to continue to make trade-related decisions based on our five principles of inclusive growth, wellbeing, sustainability, net zero and good governance. This has contributed to the aims set out in the National Strategy of Economic Transformation (NSET) as we transition to a wellbeing economy.
Taking a principles-based approach to trade has never been more important, in view of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Throughout the year we led calls for businesses to sever their links to Russia and made clear that the Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies will use all available powers not to support trade and investment activity with Russia.
Since the last report, we have used the levers available to the Scottish Government to make progress in improving the trading environment for Scottish goods and services. We have continued to build our evidence base to inform our policy development on the differential impacts of trade, and made human rights a central consideration in trade policy. We have also showcased Scotland’s leadership on environmental regulation at a multilateral level.
As the Scottish Government seeks a New Deal for Scottish Business to better support businesses and communities, we have taken particular steps to build up our engagement with businesses as part of improving the trading environment for goods and services. For example, we established the new Scottish Services Trade Forum. More widely, we have continued to prioritise our stakeholder relationships and engaged with academics and other organisations throughout the year to bring their expertise into our trade policy development. In this report we have detailed, for example, stakeholder roundtables on regulation, differential impacts, climate and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Of course, we also recognise that there are levers currently reserved to the UK Government, and we have continued to reiterate the importance of an effective role for the Scottish Government in all stages of trade negotiations and policy development. We have continued to scrutinise the UK Government’s proposals for each new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and assessed them against our principles, so that they best serve the interests of Scotland’s economy, people and the planet.
As we move into the third year of implementing Scotland’s Vision for Trade, we will continue to work in collaboration with our stakeholders and businesses to make a genuine impact on trade policy in Scotland. I am grateful to all those who have worked with us since we launched the Vision, and look forward to your continued support as we apply our principles to trade-related decisions.
Richard Lochhead Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade
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