Our international connections wider than some might imagine - Angus Robertson

Scotland is an internationalist, open, connected and outward-looking country. Our history is defined by significant intellectual, cultural and economic exchange. I was delighted, therefore, to launch the Scottish Government’s new International Strategy on my recent visit to Brussels.
Tartan Day celebrations in New York (Picture: Mario Tama/Getty Images)Tartan Day celebrations in New York (Picture: Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Tartan Day celebrations in New York (Picture: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

This document looks across the wide range of Scottish Government responsibilities and priorities, ensuring that we will be as effective as possible in delivering on key policies internationally.

This strategy is centred around three main areas: Economic, trade, and investment initiatives; addressing climate change, preserving biodiversity, and promoting renewable energy; and enhancing reputation, influence, and relationships.

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By concentrating our efforts in these specific areas, we can maximise the positive effects of our international work, benefiting not only people in Scotland but also those involved in our international development projects. The principles, objectives, and actions detailed in this strategy will be relevant irrespective of Scotland’s constitutional status. However, the impact Scotland can have, and the advantages it can gain, would be significantly greater if it had the capabilities that come with independence.

With a central component of this framework focussed on economic growth and creating international opportunities for Scotland and Scottish businesses, the strategy is a joint venture with the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, Neil Gray.

The good news is that there is already significant international success. Indeed, a recent report showed that Scottish Development International’s value brought £1.7 billion to the Scottish Economy and thousands of real living wage jobs created by companies from abroad setting up shop in Scotland, so we know this new work will bear significant fruit.

Scotland boasts impressive international industries in sectors such as energy and climate change, data and tech, higher education, space, food and drink, tourism, and more, which are already world-leading yet hold even more potential for expansion. At this time of most difficult economic circumstances, getting the most from global investment and opportunities is pivotal.

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We are also blessed in having bigger international connections than some might imagine. Recent research suggested that upwards of 40 million people across the world consider themselves to have Scottish heritage. Many more have non-familial links having lived, worked or studied here. Indeed, our approach set out in the Scottish Connections Framework goes far beyond personal ancestry. Recognising and engaging our diaspora is an objective in itself – not a means to an end. Scotland’s diaspora and our Scottish Connections are an extension of Scotland – our living bridge with people, organisations and communities around the world.

Connecting with our international diaspora will enable us to learn from their skills, experiences and achievements. I look forward to discussing the framework in detail with our friends and partners in New York City as part of the 25th anniversary of Tartan Week – itself a leading global event to celebrate Scotland’s contributions to the world.

Delivering both the Scottish Connections Framework and Scottish Government’s International Strategy is in large part down a dedicated and talented range of public servants based across the globe. My appreciation and admiration for them is great. It is a privilege to lead these initiatives and I am certain we will go from strength to strength building Scotland’s reputation, impact and economic fortitude.

You can find out about the role of our international offices and organisations and about the International Strategy and the Scottish Connections Framework on the Scottish Government’s website – please do have a read.