The Scottish government has published its trade and investment strategy for 2016 to 2021, a five-year plan outlining the steps and initiatives planned to promote innovation, investment and economic growth. Its main priorities are increasing international exports and attracting more inward investment. The strategy aims to increase Scotland’s competitiveness, develop its capacity as a global hub for innovation and investment, and offer investment-ready capital propositions.

The policy report draws focus to key initiatives, including 'one Scotland' – a collaboration whereby Scottish Development International (SDI) brings together the Scottish government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a range of other private, public and academic institutions to share knowledge and realise international opportunities. Scotland will dedicate £3.5m in 2016 to 2017 to support “innovations hubs” in London, Dublin and Brussels that will provide a platform for attracting inward investment and capital and for businesses and academia to access trade and investment opportunities. The report also introduced an 'eight point action plan' for trade and investment, a 'digital first' approach to information and support to help Scottish companies, various steps to boost exports, and policies promoting trade, sustainable development and responsible business to support human rights around the globe.

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In line with its stated aim of reducing inequality and promoting responsible business, the strategy also emphasises close engagement with existing investors and encourages international companies to make the Scottish business pledge and pay the living wage.

The Scottish government aims to build on the progress made in the past five years – despite the economic downturn, especially in Europe, international exports increased by 17.3% from 2010 to 2014, and Scotland “has continued to be the most attractive place in the UK outside London for inward investments”, according to the report.

Scotland’s deputy first minister John Swinney said, “With international exports increasing by 17% in the past five years, the strategy builds on this success and aims to help more Scottish businesses sell more goods and services to more markets, while helping existing investors to develop and grow in Scotland.”

Working across government and with partners, we will take the strengths of Scotland's economy to the rest of the world to grow export markets and attract new international capital investment,” he said.