23 October 2017

  |  CBI Scotland


Message from the Scotland Director

CBI Scotland Director Hugh Aitken reflects on a varied programme of activity in October.

Message from the Scotland Director

October has been a varied month. From party conferences to trade delegations, manufacturing trends to the Scottish Lobbying Act we seem to have covered a lot of issues in a short space of time. At busy periods like this it’s great to have such strong support from our colleagues in London and we were delighted to welcome Deputy Director-General Josh Hardie and Head of Campaigns John Foster to Scotland this month. Josh and John took on a busy schedule meeting with members and participating in events.  

One of my October highlights was participating in a business delegation to Slovenia, coordinated by the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE). The focus of the event was to showcase investment opportunities in Slovenia and to have a frank discussion about the impact of Brexit on future European trade. For my part, I gave a keynote speech and took part in a panel session alongside Zdravko Počivalšek, the Slovenian Minister of State for Economic Development and Technology; Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade policy at the Institute of Directors; and Anne-Marie Martin the CEO of COBCOE.

As with many Brexit themed events, the panel discussion which followed was both fascinating and thought provoking. We often look at Brexit from a UK perspective and forget that companies across Europe are also looking at the process and wondering what it means for them in terms of imports, exports and investment. We talked a lot about industries like car manufacturing that could provide a sensible avenue for greater collaboration between the UK and Slovenia and about how both countries could do more to attract investment. It also provided an excellent opportunity to remind delegates and attendees that, whatever happens with Brexit, Scotland remains open for business and that internationalisation is a key priority for the Scottish economy.  

We also released our quarterly survey of the manufacturing industry earlier this week. As many of you will remember, the Q2 results were unexpectedly upbeat, with many measures reaching highs not seen for decades. At the time we urged caution and that approach has proven correct, with Q3 results much more subdued than the previous quarter. We’ve long suspected that there would be a cooling down effect in the Scottish economy as we moved towards the end of the year. Our ITS survey and the recent GDP figures published by the Scottish Government both seem to suggest that this is taking place. Perhaps the only real bright spot has been exporting, where currency affects continue to reward those looking to international markets.

While the year heads into the home straight, many people across the country will be starting to slow down and think about Christmas holidays. Not us, we’ve still got an excellent programme of events and policy workshops coming up, including a great event with Sir Tom Hunter on solving the Scottish skills gap and our leading cyber security conference. We look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.