Northern neighbours

February 25, 2018 by No Comments | Category International, Norway

This week I will be in Norway to strengthen Scotland’s bonds with our Nordic neighbours and engage with the newly appointed Norwegian Government.

Building upon my previous engagement to the country in 2017, the visit is an opportunity to cement our diplomatic ties with Norway and, in collaboration with Scottish Development International, inject new confidence in business relationships between our two nations.

Scotland has strong connections with Norway and its neighbours in the wider Nordic and Baltic region. Nordic-Baltic countries have a reputation as established leaders in maritime affairs, energy, research and innovation and social affairs – all areas where Scotland also leads the world – and there is much potential for us to work together.

With Brexit threatening Scotland’s trade links and future permanence in the Single Market, it becomes even more important for us to maximise our economic, cultural and social links with our neighbouring nations. So, this visit is an opportunity to reassure our Nordic friends that Scotland remains an open and competitive market for Norwegian investment.

During the visit, I will meet with government and business representatives from across the country to discuss the implications of Brexit and further discuss our updated Nordic Baltic Policy Statement, outlining key areas for future cooperation with our Nordic and Baltic partners.

Economically, Norway is an important partner for Scotland and was our fifth biggest export market in 2016 – 4.6% of all international exports. 95 Norwegian enterprises operate in Scotland, employing more than 4,500 Scottish workers and generating a turnover of £1.852 billion, so it is vital we continue to reassure international investors that Scotland remains an attractive business location.

To promote this message and further Scottish trade and investment links with the wider region, I will undertake a series of engagements with the business community, including meeting representatives from the oil & gas company Statoil, an existing investor in Scotland which supports more than 1,500 Scottish jobs.

In addition, I will meet representatives of the newly appointed Norwegian Government to reiterate our commitment to work together and share best practices to benefit our countries’ economy and wider wellbeing. Among others, I will have the pleasure to meet State Secretary Audun Halvorsen, Ambassador for Arctic and Antarctic Affairs, Anniken R. Krutnes and Atle Leikvoll, leader of the Norwegian Government’s Brexit working group, to discuss Scotland’s position as the negotiations progress. I will also take this as an opportunity to reaffirm Scotland’s role as a good global citizen, discuss the work being done on the international development front and our increasing work on Scotland’s relationship with the Arctic, including our commitment to develop a new Arctic Strategy for Scotland.

We believe Scotland’s future is best served by continued EU membership, in line with the wishes of the Scottish people as expressed in the 2016 referendum. As shown in the recently published paper on ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs, Investments’, Brexit implications for Scotland’s economy are going to be extremely damaging for our economy. Leaving the EU could result in a hit to GDP of up to 8.5%, equivalent to a loss of up to £2,300 per year for each person in Scotland by 2030.

This is why, moving forward, we are keen to maintain a close relationship with our European partners, particularly with our northern neighbours. The Scottish Government, working with Scottish Development International, is committed to securing our important connections with Norway and Nordic partners in the future. There are many areas we can work together to strengthen our economic, cultural and social ties and I am looking forward to continuing to share our expertise and learn from others.

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