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Free and fair trade helped build Scotland, and every other part of the United Kingdom, by delivering new jobs, opportunity and prosperity.
At this critical time, as we seek to build back better from the pandemic, we are embracing opportunities overseas in major and vibrant markets. That is why we are striking trade agreements to help Scottish businesses thrive around the world.
We have already done deals covering 67 countries plus the EU, securing nearly £900billion in trade as of 2019. But that is just the beginning.
A gold standard agreement with our allies Australia, which is now in sight, would mark the next generation of trade deals. It is set to be the first deal we have negotiated from scratch as a newly independent trading nation.
We can do more than ever together to break down the barriers holding back our exports and propel them to greater success Down Under.
We know from the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde that our exports support 6.5m jobs up and down the UK, with around 468,000 in Scotland.
That shows, put simply, that trade equals jobs.
The opportunities we are working to secure will boost businesses across Scotland, from its whisky producers and financial services industry to its technological trailblazers.
By helping our businesses sell more of their world-class goods and services abroad, we will drive forward an exports-led and jobs-led recovery.
A deal with Australia would not just secure opportunities for businesses stretching from Speyside to Sydneyside.
It would also clear the way for us to join Australia, alongside like-minded allies such as Canada, New Zealand and Mexico, in one of the world’s largest and most dynamic trading areas.
Joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership would propel our trade to new heights with eleven major and vibrant economies.
For example, we exported £878 million worth of Scotch whisky in 2019 to nations in CPTPP, and our membership will boost such exports further.
The Scottish government and SNP don’t want us to do any of this, of course, and would rather remain part of the European Union.
That would deny the best of Scottish businesses the opportunities offered by CPTTP and hamper their ability to export more to fast-growing consumer markets in the Asia Pacific.
Our exports to Australia of Scotch whisky have nearly doubled over the last decade.
This great pro-trade nation is a top destination for single malt Scotch such as Glenmorangie or Macallan, representing the whisky industry’s eighth largest market in the world.
Last year, we exported £113m worth of Scotch whisky there – and we can sell so much more. But the UK’s biggest type of food and drink export faces a tariff of 5% into Australia’s valuable market.
We are pushing to slash the whisky tariff, which would boost sales by ensuring this produce can be better value abroad, making more money for distillers to invest in their future growth. That would be a big win for an industry which is estimated to support around 50,000 jobs.
Our exports of food and drink to Australia surged by 26.5 per cent over 2016-2020, more than twice as much as to the EU. A deal would help us satisfy this growing appetite for Scotland’s world-class produce.
We are using our independent trade policy to go above and beyond to support other key industries such as services, data and digital. After going further and faster than before to boost our services exports to Japan, we are ready to go further still in a deal with Australia.
Together, we could set the standard for modern trade, with cutting-edge provisions tailor-made to support the industries of the future, securing high-quality jobs for local people.
We know that Scotland is heaving with innovators, from Edinburgh’s fintech firms like FNZ to developers making chart-topping games in Dundee like Lemmings and Minecraft. Top-quality products are being made which people want to buy, which is why I want more of them out there in the world’s major markets.
Seizing opportunities overseas will help spark new jobs, businesses, and economic growth across the UK. Our new Trade and Investment Hub in Edinburgh – alongside the hubs in every other nation of the UK – will ensure businesses and local people can make the most of their global potential.
This is Global Britain in action: seizing new opportunities around the world as an independent trading nation in huge markets such as Australia while paving the way to prosperity across the UK, especially in Scotland.
Liz Truss is Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade