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Need UK’s help! SNP admits global trade mission plans RELY on UK embassies

3 min read

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Scottish Development International (SDI) offices have been set up in countries around the world in a bid to boost Scotland’s worldwide presence. This is alongside the huge amount of work done to promote Scotland as part of the UK by Foreign Office diplomats and civil servants.

Scotland’s trade minister Ivan McKee said SDI bases have been opened in 38 countries in North America, the Far East, India, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, but added: “Of these, 32 share premises or are sited at British embassies or consulates.”

The SDI has a presence in cities including Calgary, Toronto, Mexico City, Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Jose, Melbourne, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

It comes after Dean Lockhart, Scottish Conservatives Constitution spokesperson asked a parliamentary question which said: “How many Scottish Development International (SDI) offices there are, broken down by location, and how many share premises with or are sited at (a) British embassies or consulates and (b) the offices of UK Government agencies?”

Following the response, Mr Lockhart said: “It is clear that without the strength and resources of the UK Government, the SNP Government would struggle to establish any form of international trade presence.

“With the UK Government providing premises and other support for four out of five SNP trade offices, SNP ministers should wholeheartedly welcome this support.”

The SNP has also demanded Holyrood should have “unfettered and unconditional access” to the UK Government’s diplomatic and consular networks to be able to promote their own agendas on key issues such as trade, Brexit and climate change.

As a part of a submission to the UK Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, Scottish officials led by Ms Sturgeon proposed Scotland should be granted a right to use embassies and other official UK facilities abroad.

It also emerged this month Ms Sturgeon’s administration was looking at opening Scottish “consulates” in every EU state.

But SNP MP Kenny MacAskill advised Scotland should close its office inside the British Embassy in Washington DC and seek to open its own office so Scotland is “promoting a different line from the UK.”

He said the process of increasing standalone Scottish representation abroad should be “ramped up”.

He added: “Scottish Government representation abroad needs to be ramped up and the proposals are welcome.

“They are necessary anyway irrespective of the UK position on a second referendum.

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“They’re needed to represent the state in all its interests and that will include actions post any refusal.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said that SDI and Government staff worked hard to promote the nation’s interests abroad.

They added: “It is entirely right that the FCDO supports all this important overseas work.

“We keep all our overseas office locations under review to ensure they remain appropriate for an ambitious, outward-facing Scotland.”

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