CBI Scotland: Scottish and UK Governments can lean on business to make a success of trade negotiations

The partnership between business and government holds the key to negotiating successful trade deals with partners around the world, CBI Scotland director Tracy Black told an audience of business leaders and Scottish and UK Government officials at an event in Edinburgh today.

CBI Scotland: Scottish and UK Governments can lean on business to make a success of trade negotiations

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, Graham Hutcheon, CBI Scotland chair and director of operations, Edrington Distillers Limited, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland and Robin Bulloch, customer banking director at TSB

Tracy Black drew on insights from Building a World-Leading UK Trade Policy, a new CBI trade policy paper, highlighting the principles – formal business engagement to make the best use of firms’ expertise, transparency and a strong mandate based on economic evidence – that will give the UK the best chance of negotiating trade deals successfully.

The CBI also makes several practical recommendations for how to build a world-leading UK trade policy, including:

  • Appointing a Chief Business Trade Envoy to gather business intelligence, be a single point of government contact for firms, and ensure policy coherence
  • Taking business delegations to negotiations to strengthen the UK’s hand and give negotiators immediate access to technical and “shop floor” expertise
  • Extending the remit of existing Department for International Trade (DIT) Expert Trade Advisory Groups to create Thematic and Sectoral
  • Trade Advisory Groups providing detailed advice for specific sectors
  • Setting up a high-level Strategic EU Trade Advisory Group for EU trade negotiations

These recommendations build on and expand the work already done by DIT for global trade deals, creating a comprehensive approach which would cover the UK’s future negotiations with the EU, and ensure co-ordination between the UK’s approach to the EU and its ambitions for the rest of the world.

The event, sponsored by TSB, KPMG and Dentons, also featured a keynote address from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Other speakers included minister for trade, investment and innovation, Ivan McKee MSP, and the Department for International Trade’s trade commissioner for Europe, Andrew Mitchell CMG.

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said: “As negotiations about the future relationship with the UK’s largest trading partner hove into view and it looks to strike trade deals with partners old and new, we need to do what we can to ensure that Scottish firms can feed into this process and capitalise on opportunities through a joined-up approach – not just across government but between governments.

“Over the past year we’ve been delighted to work with the Scottish Government to examine the Scottish exporting landscape and how we can expand Scotland’s stake in the global economy – a partnership already bearing fruit through an export mentoring scheme. That’s why we’re so keen to encourage the UK Government to harness the evidence, expertise and experience business can bring to bear.

“It is firms that trade most goods and services, are at the front line of market access barriers, and strike deals every day the world over. Their knowledge and insight – from the factory, shop and office floor to the boardroom – will be mission critical to the UK, and Scotland’s, trading future.”

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