Liz McAreavey: Let’s show we’re open for business

Liz McAreavey, chief executive  of Edinburgh Chamber Of Commerce

Liz McAreavey, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber Of Commerce

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It seems that each passing month sees political stability further eroded around the world, creating new fundamental problems for our businesses to deal with. The global volatility has manifested itself in Brexit, in the shock Presidential elections in the United States, in the uncertainty surrounding the forthcoming elections across Europe, and now, more recently, in the emergence of Indyref 2.

Whilst it is a fundamental right of people to determine their future, uncertainty is rarely a friend of business, and what businesses now need is for a far greater focus from governments on growing the economies which generate the wealth our societies ultimately depend on.

Strong economic growth comes from being an outward-looking nation trading with the rest of the world, exporting not only our goods and services but our knowledge, expertise and innovation. The world stage should be familiar to Scotland which has often punched above its weight. When you reflect on the Enlightenment, the engineering prowess, the inventions and the Scots who made their fortunes across the globe, we have a lot to feel proud of.

World-leading research in big data, robotics and bio-science is coming out of the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, our Tech and FinTech sectors are producing innovative applications for security and a fast-changing digitised world. The Scottish Government is cognisant of the need for businesses to increase their ambitions for growth and look to international markets for that growth. Businesses need to better understand what is needed to export and the Scottish Chamber Network will be partnering with the private sector to share experiences and resources to assist with achieving this critically-important International strategy.

Edinburgh is one of the top 10 cities in the world as a place that is attracting significant investment from overseas funds and we are second only to London in terms of our share of the Foreign Direct Investment coming onto the UK. The UK receives 49 per cent of the total US outward investment, Cahal Dowds of Deloitte explains the M&A Deal Corridor between UK and US has never been stronger, with the technology, media and telecommunications sector most active. “Interest rates are low, corporate cash reserves are high and the supply of capital for corporates and private equity is massive. In a world where there is a scramble for market share, the fundamentals for M&A have never been better”.

So with international relations still growing and a strong vote of confidence in the UK economy, in spite of Brexit, Scotland needs to press ahead and take its share of the prize. We need to present a message of stability and “open for business” to the rest of the world. Yes, we want investment into Scotland but we also need our home-grown businesses to look to the huge opportunities available through accessing new overseas markets and scaling to achieve real growth. Skyscanner’s sale to China’s Ctrip last year for £1.4 billion is a great example of what can be achieved with ambition and a drive into new international markets and investors who support management and take a longer term view of the investment cycle.

We are a small nation and our domestic market is not enough to support start-up culture and the sustainability we require to create an economy that will deliver success, inclusivity and employment opportunities. Exporting is great.

Liz McAreavey is chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce