Third of Scotland’s economy owned by overseas firms

An oil platfrom in the North Sea has been shut down. Picture: PA
An oil platfrom in the North Sea has been shut down. Picture: PA
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A third of Scotland's economy is now owned by overseas firms - up from 25% when the SNP took power, official figures have shown.

It prompted claims that the Government has given up "economic sovereignty" after pledging to protect this.

SNP ministers were again today urged to ditch plans for a second independence referendum amid fears it will lead to growing economic instability as MSPs debated the issue at Holyrood.

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Labour unveiled figures which showed that more than a third of Scots firms are owned by overseas companies - up by more than 10% since the SNP first took office in 2007.

Foreign ownership is now higher in Scotland then elsewhere in the UK.

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Labour economy spokesman Richard Leonard said: "While the SNP have fixating on political sovereignty, they have presided in office, but maybe not in power, over an historic loss in economic sovereignty."

Mr Leonard described the speed of the takeover as "simply breath-taking."

"More foreign companies own businesses in Scotland than any other part of the UK - including London. That makes Scotland more open to international shocks in the economy like Brexit or a second referendum on independence."

The official Scottish Government figures show that 23.6% of Scottish firms were owned by overseas firms in 2007 and eight years later this rose to to 34.2. Separate ONS figures record the Scots level in 2013 at 34.6% - the highest in the UK.

But senior Nationalists insisted that the overseas investment works two ways.

Former transport minister Stewart Stevenson said: "Is he (Leonard) arguing that Scottish companies and investors should not be able to invest overseas in companies in other countries to support economic investment here?"

He added; "Scottish companies have higher levels of investment internationally to integrate and join markets to the benefit of the wider economy."