Being in a reformed EU is critical to trade and investment.
GLASGOW, 3-9-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — Scotland should build on its already considerable success in exporting globally and attracting investment to its shores to grow, Paul Drechsler, CBI President, will say in a speech to around 570 business leaders in Glasgow this evening.
In his first speech in Scotland since taking over as CBI President in July, Mr Drechsler will highlight the importance of the UK staying in a reformed EU to Scottish growth. He will also say that the “two key ingredients” to the long-term health and success of the economy are education and skills.
Speaking alongside Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and entrepreneur, Sir Tom Hunter, Mr Drechsler will say:
“Just as James Watt’s steam engine went from Glasgow Green to global greatness, Scotland is still ‘punching above its weight’ worldwide.
“Business here in Scotland is as diverse as it is interesting. Ranging from whisky to bio-technology, and from eco-tourism to green energy.
“Last year, Scotland attracted more than 80 inward investment projects to its shores – cementing its reputation as a great place to do business. And Scotland is seizing export opportunities in markets old and new.
“The Scottish Salmon Company is now delivering Scotland’s number one food export to over 20 countries – including the USA, China and Japan.
“Taiwan is now the number one export market for whisky producer BenRiach’s single malts.”
On the importance of staying in a reformed EU, he will say:
“Moving from single malts to the single market. About 45% of Scottish exports go to the European continent – in 2012 these totalled nearly £12 billion.
“The EU’s Single Market lets business go beyond a market of 5 million Scots, or 64 million Brits, to reach more than 500 million potential customers.
“According to the Wilson Review (1), it’s reasonable to estimate that more than 336,000 jobs in Scotland are directly or indirectly dependent on trade with EU countries. That’s more than 12% of the total number of employed people in Scotland.
“This is just one reason why – whilst there’s no uniform view – the majority of firms want the UK to stay in a reformed European Union. And most firms believe that the disadvantages of UK membership are significantly outweighed by the benefits.
“But – of course – the EU is far from perfect. And we’re not blind to the downsides.
“The EU needs to do more of what it’s good at and less of what it’s bad at.
“We believe that creating jobs should be at the very heart of what Europe is all about.
“Expanding the single market in services and signing trade deals should be top of the EU’s ‘to do’ list – and could mean more sales for firms and more jobs for people here in Scotland.
“Scottish firms are already reaping the benefits of deals negotiated for all EU Member States on the world stage – like the EU’s Free Trade Agreement with Colombia in 2013 – where Scottish whisky exporters think there’s real potential to grow their current 10% market share.”
On the importance of education and skills to creating the right environment in Scotland for businesses to prosper, he will say:
“The two key ingredients are all about people – skills and education.
“Scotland’s skilled workforce is already one of its greatest assets.
“Getting people the higher skills they need will be crucial for raising productivity and – ultimately – raising living standards. This all starts with education.
“Education is a human right. And across the UK, we need to close the gap in achievement between the poorest children and their wealthier peers.
“We quite literally can’t afford for our children to be left behind in the global skills race.
“Scotland’s ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ already seeks to combine academic excellence with the broader development that young people need to succeed. The challenge will now be to ensure that the Curriculum is delivered consistently and effectively across the country.
“And firms right here in Scotland are also ‘doing their bit’ to give pupils a head-start in the race for talent. The software company Oracle provides training, support and certification through the Oracle Academy.
“We need more firms – including the ones here in this room – to step up and lead the way in tackling skills shortages.”
On helping businesses to scale-up, he will say:
“I’ve never met a smaller company who didn’t aspire – one day – to become a bigger company. And I’ve never met a bigger company who didn’t – in some way – rely on the smaller companies in its supply chain.
“Stepping up to tomorrow’s opportunities means helping growing firms to scale-up today. That means helping Medium-Sized Firms to access the finance they need to grow – making sure they can benefit from complementary support from enterprise agencies like Scottish Development International and UK Trade & Investment.
“Raising our game on innovation and putting in place world-class infrastructure will also be crucial for launching firms onto the world stage.”
For all press enquiries please contact the CBI press office
020 7395 8239
SOURCE: The CBI