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Internationalism key to the future
Scotland must capitalise on its competitive advantages and explore the huge economic opportunities available in global markets, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said yesterday.
In his first major speech to Parliament since being re-elected, Mr Swinney said a priority area for sustainable economic growth would be the internationalisation of Scottish businesses and the re-industrialisation of Scotland.
During a debate on Taking Scotland Forward, the Cabinet Secretary outlined the Government's core economic and jobs priorities. He said that the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International will tailor its support to growth firms, in growth sectors and in growth markets to secure new investment and jobs.
Mr Swinney said:
"The Scottish Government is working hard to secure Scotland's economic recovery, attract investment and to create jobs. Last month's labour market figures showed that unemployment fell in Scotland for the 6th consecutive month, and Scotland's employment rate is now the highest of any country in the UK.
"This Government's Economic Strategy and Economic Recovery Plan has established firm foundations for economic growth. We recognise, however, that more needs to be done to support our growth sectors and companies, and to promote Scotland internationally as a competitive and attractive destination for inward investment.
"Last week a survey from Ernst and Young showed that Scotland leads these islands in inward investment projects. In recent months this has been demonstrated by substantial inward investment announcements from Amazon, Mitsubishi Power Systems, Dooson Power and Gaia Wind.
"This morning, financial services leader State Street joined this list of international companies expanding their operations in Scotland and delivering new investment and jobs.
"News of new international investment is great news for our economy, but we also need to do more to support Scottish firms to capitalise on our competitive advantages and prioritise the internationalisation of Scotland's economy.
"Scotland is internationally recognised for its experience, knowledge and skills in energy, education, food and drink, financial management, engineering and an array of manufactured goods. We must recognise and capitalise on these advantages and strengths through increasing Scottish exports and providing support for enterprises with ambitions for global markets.
"Our future economic vision for Scotland has a renewed focus on our growth companies, our growth sectors and growth markets.
"We must also provide opportunities to utilise the skills and knowledge of our workforce. This is why this year we will support a total of 46,500 training opportunities - including 25,000 modern apprenticeships, the highest ever number in Scotland.
"Our ambition for Scotland's economy is why we are pressing the UK Government to boost the economic responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament - with control of borrowing powers, corporation tax, the Crown Estate and excise duties - to ensure that we have the job-creating powers Scotland needs to support more jobs and growth.
"Scotland has survived the deepest recession in recent memory and through refocusing our priorities we will ensure this nation is well placed and well resourced to meet future challenges and economic opportunities."