With news of a proposed solution to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol in the shape of the proposed Windsor Agreement, one of the barriers to trade for Scottish exporters could be removed.

This is welcome news for businesses hoping to resume or increase trade with Northern Ireland. However it also has wider ramifications, with hope that other aspects of our post-exit trading relationship with the EU, such as access to the Horizon Europe research programme, could also be resolved with potentially significant financial and economic benefits for Scotland.

Scotland’s trading relationship with other nations is one of the foundations of our economy and the health of those relationships is a key driver of our future economic success. Exported goods and services account for roughly a fifth of Scotland’s GDP and the Scottish Government’s ambition is to grow this to a quarter over the coming decade with the potential to substantially boost GDP and tax revenue.

Exports from energy, renewables, financial and professional services, whisky and salmon alone are estimated to contribute more than £25 billion to the UK’s exports each year. Tourism and international students at Scotland’s universities and colleges also create substantial economic value.

Trading conditions in recent years have been challenging but there have been opportunities as well as losses. India, for example, has overtaken France as the biggest market for Scotch whisky by volume – yet this still only represents a small proportion of the Indian market opportunity.

SCDI has been working closely with members of our International Business Committee, a panel of exporting organisations, to understand how they are being impacted by these changes, not least our exit from the EU trading bloc.

Understanding how the EU is changing and resetting our relationship with our biggest trading partners is why later this month we will be visiting Brussels with some of our members for what we hope will be positive dialogue with EU officials, Scottish and UK representatives in Europe, trade association counterparts and other countries also trading outside the EU. 

Whatever the outcome, we owe it to our exporters to work to find ways to unlock future trade barriers and to support our ambitions to sell more of Scotland’s goods and services around the world.