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[ 29-09-2010 ]

Addressing the 2010 Scottish Chambers of Commerce Annual Dinner, SCC Chairman Mike Salter has called for a stronger focus on internationalising Scottish business in order to foster stronger economic growth now and in the future.  In advance of the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review and Scottish Government Budget, he has also underlined the fact that efficiencies in public spending need not necessarily result in cuts in services.

Mr Salter said:

“There has been in recent times a consistent ‘glow’ in the economy particularly in Scotland,  it has been the steady but discernable growth in International business and exports.

“Scotland is highly regarded in International markets, more so than we perhaps realise. The country has a reputation for being straight forward, trusting, respected and innovative.   As well as our well recognised products there is an increasingly broader spectrum of businesses exporting “Brand Scotland” to the world.

“International trade is a terrific opportunity for the Scottish Economy.  Scottish Chambers International recently launched ‘Smart Exporter’ in partnership with the Scottish Government and Scottish Development International.  Basically it is a programme to help companies gain from the experiences of others in gaining the confidence to take the  export step.

“This is part of the Chamber network and is available to all companies large or small, with some very small companies already reporting proportions as high as 60% of their revenues now emanating from exporting.”

On Government spending cuts, Mr Salter said:

“Cuts in allocation need not necessarily lead to cuts in service provision or in quality, a focus on ‘doing things differently’ and using resources better can achieve much. This should be the focus for the near and the longer term.   I have been encouraged in conversations with a number of local authorities who are indeed already doing things differently in their endeavours to maintain services in critical areas by displaying real innovation, not just tampering at the edges.   They have identified potential opportunities as well as threats, and are clearly looking to the longer term.

“To all of you who are in this arena don’t forget that the private sectors are your stakeholders too, and we can help in many ways. Our Chambers of Commerce Network throughout Scotland are already delivering  business support services and are ideally placed to assist local authorities and other government agencies to  deliver economic development in particular, from an excellent local base. We are all stakeholders in the solutions and also what comes afterwards.”

But my plea is for you not to adopt a “salami slicing approach” - look at the bigger picture at what will have the most positive economic impact.”

On the subject of capital investment, Mike added:

“We in the UK and in Scotland in particular have been left well behind by our competitors in terms of Road, Rail and Air connectivity. It is in the interests of Scotland as a whole that we have connectivity internally and externally.  The development of an ambitious, coherent, transport infrastructure plan covering Road connections around the country, especially to the Ferry ports, Rail connections between our major cities and connecting our Airports to the wider rail network must be concluded.   It should not be a partisan issue. 

“Times are tough and the financial resources may not be available I hear some say…….and they are broadly right.  However is now not the time to explore different funding models which could be available to us?”