Salmond makes direct Scottish push for US business

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America is Scotland’s most successful overseas export market and the relationship presents huge opportunities for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, according to First Minister Alex Salmond.

Speaking ahead of his attendance at an SDI and SCDI trade mission in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon, the First Minister also described increasing Scottish business links with the United States as a “key economic priority”.

The First Minister also emphasised the importance of building on Scotland’s success thus far at attracting inward investment, as recognised for the second consecutive year in the Ernst and Young 2012 Attractiveness Survey.

The most recent Ernst and Young survey revealed Scotland once again as the top destination in the UK for foreign direct investment, outperforming every other part of the UK in generating employment from foreign direct investment (FDI). The survey reported almost 6,000 positions were created in Scotland during 2011 – a 50 per cent increase on the previous year, making it once again the UK’s leading location for FDI job creation.  The survey compares jobs created across the 12 nations and regions of the UK.

Thursday’s Manhattan trade mission is part of the First Minister’s Scotland Week programme of economic and business events in New York and Washington DC this week, aimed at increasing exports, employment and investment in Scotland. Run by SDI – the international arm of Scottish Enterprise – the trade mission will also visit Canada next week for a two day business development programme in Toronto.

It follows the First Minister’s meeting this morning with Daktari, an American life sciences company that has announced it will locate its global manufacturing base in Inverness, with the creation of 126 new jobs.

Mr Salmond said:

“The United States continues to be Scotland’s biggest source of inward investment and remains Scotland’s biggest export market. Indeed, the American export market was worth £3.5 billion to Scotland in 2011 – an increase of more than a third since 2007.

“Food and drink exports to the USA were worth just under £1 billion in 2011, oil and gas services were worth £1.8 billion and we’ve just learned this week that whisky sales to the US last year broke through the £700 million barrier for the first time to reach £758 million.

“These figures are all on the rise, too, illustrating just how important it is to continue to cultivate successful economic relationships with American business. Foreign direct investment is a huge part of that and the last two Ernst and Young surveys clearly demonstrate Scotland’s success in attracting FDI.

“What is also a key priority is increasing the links that Scottish businesses have with the United States and making it easier and more productive for Scottish companies to do business here.

“In 2011-12, SDI helped 323 Scottish companies across all key sectors and generated 73 international projects.

“Trade missions of the kind being held in New York today as part of Scotland Week are a vital contributor to that success and I am confident we will see even further investment in Scotland as a result.”

Anne MacColl, chief executive of Scottish Development International, said the USA continued to present “significant opportunities” for Scottish firms to trade overseas, and added:

“This week’s mission forms an important part of our ongoing work with companies to help them translate these opportunities into tangible business growth.

“The companies joining us on the mission will be able to develop and strengthen relationships at a senior level, across industries which continue to show high demand for Scottish products and services.”

Other key findings from the Ernst & Young UK Attractiveness Survey and European Investment Monitor (released in June 2012)  include:

•           The survey reports almost 6,000 positions, from 51 projects, were created in Scotland during 2011 – a 50 per cent increase of jobs on the previous year making it once again the UK’s leading location for FDI job creation.
•           the US was the biggest source of FDI into Scotland overall, accounting for 50% of projects
•           Norway was the second highest investor in Scotland, reflecting the strength of the nation’s oil and gas industry
•           as well as leading on projects, the US is also Scotland’s leading source of FDI employment. In 2011, US companies’ investments in Scotland created over 3,700 jobs
•           the percentage of Scottish FDI employment originating from the US has now risen from just over 20% in 2009 to over 60% in 2011
•           a total of 1,800 jobs were created in Scotland from European Countries, including significant investments from Switzerland, Norway and Poland.

Additionally, data from the Ernst & Young European Investment Monitor reveals that Scotland:

•           topped the UK league in terms of job creation from FDI in 2011 for the second year running, with over 2,000 more jobs created than the next-highest region.
•           secured 33.3%, up 19% from previous year, of all R&D projects into UK
•           received 4.7%, in comparison to 4.3% in previous year, of all R&D projects into Europe
•           is the 1st region for R&D investment in the UK – a position we have held for 4 out of last 5 years
•           is the 2nd region for the creation of jobs in the UK after the South East
•           received a quarter of all European R&D projects to the UK
•           acquired nearly 39% of US R&D projects to the UK