Economics of Independence

Scotland’s exporters let down by UK embassy network

547386_177166795766513_258176797_nScotland needs independent overseas representation – as UK embassy network fails to promote Scotland globally!

UK embassies across the world failed to promote Scotland this St Andrew’s Day.

Ahead of this important day for Scotland in the world, Business for Scotland directly contacted UK embassies across the world to establish what they were doing around St. Andrew’s Day to promote Scottish exports or Scotland as a destination for tourists including the diaspora. Having previously been invited to St Georges Day events at embassies whilst working internationally, I thought it would be interesting to see the result of this reseach.

20 embassies. 0 events.

Not a single UK embassy had planned any function or wider form of activity to promote Scotland’s national day. 20 embassies were contacted from Paris and Berlin to Brasilia and Tel Aviv, including embassies in many of Scotland’s key export markets. Scotland’s exports in the top nine destinations alone total £10.5 billion. The UK’s Embassy in America has confirmed an event is taking place in Washington but this is being organised by the Scottish Government’s First Secretary of Scottish Affairs.

As outlined in the White Paper, an independent Scottish diplomatic service would have greater opportunities to represent Scotland globally and promote Scottish goods and services. The Independence Prospectus “Scotland’s Future” proposes a network of 70-90 overseas offices costing £90-120 million pounds a year, a saving on what Scottish taxpayers currently contribute to the UK embassy network.

Scotland poorly represented by Westminster

The failure of UK embassies to promote St Andrew’s Day demonstrates that Scottish business and trade is poorly represented by Westminster institutions. Ireland, in comparison, has successfully used its diplomatic network to promote St Patrick’s Day across the world – and in doing so boosted the Irish brand and Irish exports.

The Scottish Government has a target in the independence prospectus to boost Scottish exports by 50% by 2017. This includes global promotion of key sectors such as food and drink, life sciences and tourism. Opportunities in this area are best served by a diplomatic network that promotes Scotland’s unique strengths and interests.

Commenting on the findings, Business for Scotland CEO Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said:

” David Cameron and Alistair Carmichael can’t even find the time to attend their own St. Andrew’s Day event in Downing Street never mind ensure the promotion of specific Scottish economic interests in the world. We are talking about people’s jobs and hard earned taxes here. We more than pay our way in the UK yet we get limited gain from our contribution. Scotland deserves better.

“Scots firms trade in an increasingly globalised and competitive marketplace whereby it is crucial to have direct representation by government in support of business, jobs and inward investment.

“Scotland is the top performing part of the UK outside London for inward investment from around the world but this comes on the back of extensive work by the Scottish Government and its agencies rather than the Westminster Government. Imagine what we could achieve with the full international powers of independence to promote Scotland around the world and boost our economy at home.”

No evidence for Westminster claims

UnknownOwen Paterson (the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), said last year that “there was a big advantage to Scottish firms in having UK embassies promoting exports”.  He said “There’s a real positive for great Scottish firms like Walkers and those in the Scotch whisky industry in using the British government”.

Yet upon investigation this claim is clearly bogus. On St Andrew’s Day there was absolutely no effort to promote Scotland from UK embassies. This follows previous criticism that the UK network was refusing to support Scotland’s Development body in promoting Scottish whisky. Instead Scotland Development International were charged £3,000 to access UK facilities while UK Trade and Investment received access free of charge.


Compare the lack of global promotion of Scotland on St Andrews Day as part of the UK with St Patrick’s Day promoted by an independent Ireland.  Would Ireland sell more Guinness as a region of the UK ruled from Westminster? Of course not. A nation’s business community, especially its exports, benefits from the unique strengths and global status of being an independent country.

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Sources: Business for Scotland contacted UK Embassies and Consulates in Berne, Paris, Stockholm, Rome, Brasilia, Berlin, Budapest, The Hague, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Brussels, Prague, Vienna, Lisbon, Reykjavik, Copenhagen, Madrid, Oslo, Dublin and Tel Aviv.

The No Campaign borders on hypocrisy

Export Figures – Table 9.1 and page 180 of ‘Building Security and Creating Opportunity: Economic Policy Choices in an Independent Scotland’

Scottish Diplomatic Network – pages 466-468 in ‘Scotland’s Future’

About the author

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before becoming CEO of Business for Scotland Gordon ran a business strategy and social media, sales & marketing consultancy.

With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G).

Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and Believe in Scotland.


  • Let’s get one thing strait , We own a share in every UK Embassy in the world . we payed for them with our tax money, so all this nonsense about not having any Embassy’s is complete rubbish . Westminster will let us share them or they will give us our money back end off. just like we own a share in every air base, navy base. every structure that the uk Government has put up, we own a tax payers share…. trillions and trillions of pounds, they are our assets , so we will get a share or our money back simple…..

  • Strangely, we have found the UK embassies could not have more supportive on various trade missions, perhaps it was the fact that we were the only Scottish company on those missions to Japan (twice) and Abu Dhabi. The embassies are perhaps more focused on activities related to generating business for UK companies, eg the GREAT Week series of trade missions organised by UKTI. Very efficient and well promoted with good attendances by local business. We will continue to support these as the interest and initiatives by SDI have been sadly lacking.

  • Interesting figures from the White Paper. However now start up costs provided as usual. Do you have an idea how much this may cost or are we going in to share mode. Remember to properly cost something you should always use worst case scenario, not something government does well but you should.

  • Visit Scotland posted a picture of a Joke Scotsman wearing a Jimmy Bunnet, joke glasses, sporran & wrap around kilt, this image was posted on their Facebook page on St Andrews Day. Someone in the wrong job there, very derogatory to al Scottish People & Scotland. visit Scotland removed it when they received numerous complaints.

  • I would be interested in the statistics on UK embassies promoting St Georges Day or St Davids Day… let’s compare apples and apples…

    • One of the reasons that I thought this was an interesting thing to research is that I personally have been invited to St Georges Day celebrations at embassies through previous international business experiences. I am sure you don’t need me t point out what a good job Ireland does using St Patricks day to enhance their national brand?

      Report: St George’s Day Event At The British Embassy In Budapest ……/report_st_georges_day_event_at_the_british_emb…‎
      The British Embassy in Budapest together with the British Chamber of Commerce in Hungary hosted a joint St George’s Day event on 25 April 2012. St George is …

      St George’s Day at The British Embassy, Dubai – YouTube
      ► 2:05► 2:05‎
      24 May 2009 – Uploaded by thillman17
      St George’s Day at The British Embassy, Dubai – YouTube. Subscribe 0. Changes to YouTube comments …

  • How many promoted St. George’s, St. David’s or St. Patrick’s Days? Please put this article in context.

  • The Embassies are even threatening not to promote or order Scottish Whisky when Scotland becomes independent how pathetic.

    Scotland’s most famous export will be hit by a Foreign Office ban if the country breaks away from the UK, says William Hague.

    The Foreign Secretary says Britain’s 140 embassies and high commissions will stop promoting whisky and other products if Scotland becomes independent.

    Many UK diplomatic missions help to promote whisky for free. Last year, whisky exports earned Scotland £3billion, equal to £125 a second and more than 20 per cent up on 2010.

    Warning: Foreign Minister William Hague has said that Britain’s embassies will not promote whisky if Scotland breaks away
    Warning: Foreign Minister William Hague has said that Britain’s embassies will not promote whisky if Scotland breaks away

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    • Do they really think we need them to promote Scotch. It pretty much promotes itself now. However if we were to have our own embassies it certainly would not hurt for whisky and other exports

    • Can hardly blame the UK if it stopped promoting an independent Scotland’s whisky. Why would a nation promote another nations goods that it has nothing to do with? It’d be like us spending our resources to promote Danish bacon.

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