Belfast Telegraph

'Yes' vote a boon to business, says Scots minister

By Andy Philip

Scottish independence would bring new opportunities to the rest of the UK and Ireland, an audience of business leaders in Belfast will be told today.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish government's enterprise minister, will set out his ambition for co-operation among the countries at the annual British-Irish Chamber of Commerce conference.

Mr Ewing will highlight figures from 2012 showing Scottish exports to the rest of the UK were estimated at £47.6bn, while Scotland's market for business from the rest of the UK is estimated to be worth £59.4bn.

He will also point to existing Irish-Scottish work on energy to establish an offshore electricity network and a cross-border collaboration to build on offshore renewable energy potential.

"In an independent Scotland our closest relationships will be with our nearest neighbours and this will lead to new opportunities for Ireland, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in terms of trade and investment," he will say.

"Our status as an independent member of the European Union will ensure free movement of goods, people and services and avoid any barriers to trade with the rest of the UK or the Republic of Ireland."

His message comes as British ministers warn they are unlikely to accept Scottish government plans to use sterling as currency after a vote for independence in the referendum on September 18.

Mr Ewing will tell the conference: "While our success in increasing international exports can be clearly seen from our trade relationship with the Republic of Ireland, which in total received £815m of Scottish exports in 2012, we know we can do so much more with independence.

"Scotland's economy is strong and diverse. With the powers of independence, future Scottish governments will be able to focus investment at home and overseas."

Other speakers will include the Lord Mayor of Belfast Mairtin O Muilleoir, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and director general of the Northern Ireland Office Julian King.

Belfast Telegraph