An independent Scotland can do even better on overseas investment

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   By a Newsnet reporter

Scotland can power ahead even further in landing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), with economic policies that are right for Scotland rather than Westminster’s London-centric approach, the SNP has said.

This week’s Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey described Scotland’s inward investment performance as “sparkling”, with Scotland attracting the highest number of overseas investment projects in 15 years.

In a blow to persistent claims of the anti-independence campaign that the constitutional debate would damaging business investment in Scotland, Ernst & Young rubbished suggestions that overseas investors were being put off investing in Scotland by the independence debate, noting that “if anything, the reverse appears to be true”.

However, the report also highlighted the way in which London is the focus of Westminster policy, with 45 per cent of total projects having been established there.

A separate study published this week by the Jimmy Reid Foundation argued that the UK was locked into a “vicious circle”, in which London sucks in ever more people and investment, depriving other areas of the UK and preventing them from building economies which can provide secure jobs and a future for their population.

Commenting last month, Financial Times Economics Editor, Chris Giles observed that “London’s economy is underpinned by government policies which will concentrate incomes in London and the southeast”.

The gap between London and the rest of the UK is only set to widen under Westminster, which shows no inclination to adopt the regional development policies necessary to prevent the growing imbalance between the richest and the poorest in the UK. 

The SNP argue that a Scotland which remains tied to Westminster will suffer economically in the future.  Indeed, without the threat of independence to concentrate the minds of Westminster politicians, Scotland would fall from the agenda.  Today the party has once again asserted that Scotland is more than capable of competing with London – but only the powers of independence would enable us to do so.

Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson – convener of the Finance Committee – said:

“This week’s Ernst & Young report was yet another indication of Scotland’s underlying economic strengths. The central argument of the anti-independence parties that the Scottish independence debate was deterring investment has been blown out of the water – in fact, the reverse is true.

“But what is also clear is that Westminster rule is working primarily for London – and not for Scotland. Almost half of UK foreign investment goes to London – this is not an achievement, it is a UK policy failure.

“Scotland has proven we are more than capable of attracting major overseas investment, as evidenced by the Ernst & Young report. The very existence of a strong Scottish Government – and the hard work of agencies such as Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise – have helped Scotland achieve what has been described as a “sparkling” performance.

“But the full powers of independence would enable us to do so much more. One of the regular issues we face in attracting investment is the lack of direct international flights into Scotland from key destinations. With powers over Air Passenger Duty we could attract the air links we need to key markets.

“By voting Yes, Scotland controls 100% of our nation’s finances, which means we can take the policy decisions necessary to build a stronger economy and fairer society, and attract even more investment.”