Scotland and Poland: European partners
Despite the uncertainty over Brexit, Scotland remains open for business and the EU remains our single largest market for international exports.
During a recent trade show in Germany, an emerging consortia of Polish Energy majors and trade bodies expressed an interest in learning more about Scottish experience and expertise in planning, developing, and managing major offshore wind projects.
Scotland is an outward-facing European nation with a strong relationship with Poland. We’re committed to continuing the development of our economic, political and cultural connections so I flew to Warsaw this week to strengthen those ties.
As well as meeting a number of key businesses and other stakeholders I will be taking time to speak with Krzysztof Tchórzewski, Polish Energy Minister and some of his key officials. I will be discussing Scotland’s strengths and ambitions in the renewables sector – specifically in offshore wind.
This visit also provides me an opportunity to talk directly to potential partners and key stakeholders in one of Europe’s fastest growing economies and allow the Scottish Government and our agencies to gain a more detailed understanding of the Polish market.
There are substantial opportunities to grow international trade and investment between the two countries across a range of sectors and industries. Poland has been one of Scotland’s strongest growth markets in the last 10 years. In fact, exports of Scottish goods and services to Poland have almost tripled between 2006 and 2016 from £110 million to £310 million (€350 million).
More broadly exports to the wider European Union remain a key driver of economic growth. According to the latest figures, exports to the EU were worth £12.7 billion in 2016, supported directly or indirectly hundreds of thousands of jobs across Scotland.
Last year, nearly 6,800 companies operating in Scotland exported goods to the EU and over 10,000 companies were reliant on imports from the EU. Additionally, in 2015, Scotland exported around £3.6 billion to countries with which the EU has a Free Trade Agreement – around 13% of Scotland’s international exports.
Food and drink exports, including iconic premium Scottish produce like whisky, beef, langoustines and salmon, are as a whole approximately four times more important to the Scottish economy than they are for the UK as a whole.
And while this trip is about increasing trade between Scotland and Poland I will also seek to reinforce the Scottish Government’s continued opposition to Brexit.
Trade with the European Union is crucial to Scotland’s continued growth. The UK Government must now take urgent steps to rule out a no-deal Brexit which threatens to have devastating consequences for jobs, businesses and communities. It must extend the Article 50 process and hold a second referendum on EU membership.