Scottish Government
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Independence will strengthen business ties

New opportunities for Ireland and UK in an independent Scotland.

Independence will give Scotland the opportunity to enhance economic links with its nearest neighbours in Ireland and the UK, Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing will tell an audience of business leaders in Belfast yesterday (February 13).

Speaking at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce (BICC) annual conference Mr Ewing will highlight the benefits of independence for businesses and outline Scotland’s future relations with the EU.

As an example of inter-island cooperation the Minister will highlight the Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study (ISLES), a joint initiative set up to examine how offshore interconnected electricity networks could be established to support the development of the vast renewable energy potential between Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Ewing will say:

“In an independent Scotland our closest relationships will be with our nearest neighbours and this will lead to new opportunities for Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the rest of the UK in terms of trade and investment.

“Our status as an independent member of the European Union will ensure free movement of goods, people and services and avoid any barriers to trade with the rest of the UK or the Republic of Ireland.

“Our Global Connections Survey figures from 2012 show that exports to the rest of the UK were estimated at £47.6 billion, whilst Scotland’s market to business in the rest of the UK is estimated to be worth £59.4 billion of exports.

“While our success in increasing international exports can be clearly seen from our trade relationship with the Republic of Ireland which in total received £815 million of Scottish exports in 2012, we know we can do so much more with independence.

“Scotland’s economy is strong and diverse. With the powers of independence future Scottish Governments will be able to focus investment at home and overseas, we will be able to give more targeted support to companies wishing to export for the first time or increase their existing level of exporting.

“One area where we already have a clear and thriving partnership is under the ISLES project. The cross border collaboration which is supported under the current European Union INTERREG IVA programme, can help Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland deliver our huge off-shore renewable energy potential including wind, wave and tidal.

“The ISLES objectives chime with the EU policy of moving to a single electricity market, and with our collective aims of maximising access to markets for our energy resources. The first part of our study showed there were no technical barriers to the development of an offshore electricity network and the next stage will inform how we can align our market, regulatory and planning frameworks in order to support future delivery.

“Scottish independence is not about walking away from the UK. It’s about being treated as equals and working together with other nations in the UN, in NATO, in the European Union and organisations like the British Irish Council.

“We need to work together as equal partners and have our own economic and social powers, rather than leaving it in the hands of a Westminster system that all too often does not suit our needs and priorities.

“We are clear that membership of the EU is the best international economic framework for us to benefit from the economic and social gains from independence.”

Notes to editors

Speakers at the second annual conference in Titanic, Belfast on 13 February include the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers and Julian King the Director General for the Northern Ireland Office.

More information is available on the British Irish Chamber of Commerce website

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