Scottish business is set to benefit from the expertise of a new UK Business Ambassador, the Secretary of State for Scotland announced today.
Brian Wilson, the Chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides and a former trade and energy minister, has been appointed as a Business Ambassador for the UK Government, which will see him take on a flexible role to promote Scottish business at home and abroad.
The news came as Mr Wilson accompanied the Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore on a tour of the new Diageo bottling plant in Leven, which has recently seen an £86 million investment by the company, creating hundreds of jobs in Fife.
Eighty-five per cent of Diageo’s output from Scotland is exported to over 180 markets worldwide. Scotch Whisky remains a strong export commodity for Scotland and the UK and exports continue to grow, with a record shipment value of £4.2 billion last year, up 23% on 2010.
Mr Wilson’s role will see him promoting the Scottish economy and business environment in addition to encouraging more firms to engage in international business activities with the view to developing growth in Scottish exports.
He will continue to contribute to the Scottish Business Board by leading a review of support for Scottish Business Exporting.
His business skills and expertise, across a range of sectors from energy to manufacturing and retail, will be invaluable in promoting the UK’s excellence internationally. Last year, Mr Wilson was named UK Global Director of the Year by the Institute of Directors for his work with Harris Tweed.
Brian Wilson said: “Trade is politically neutral and translates directly into jobs and prosperity at home. I am very willing to make whatever contribution I can to supporting Scottish and other UK companies overseas and by encouraging more of our businesses to become exporters”.
The Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, commented: “I am delighted to see Brian Wilson being appointed as a UK Business Ambassador. He has an enormous amount of knowledge of the Scottish economy and will be a huge asset I look forward to working together to help boost Scotland’s export performance which is a vital part of driving forward the Scottish economy.
“Our visit to Diageo underlines how important the whisky industry is to the Scottish economy but, equally, why we need to focus our efforts on encouraging more exports by Scottish firms. Brian’s expertise will be invaluable in helping us achieve that goal.”
The Business Ambassador Network has already provided essential support to the UK’s trade and investment activities, helping to raise UK plc’s profile globally in response to the recent economic challenges.
Mr Wilson will take on a flexible role with a particular interest in promoting Scottish businesses.
The role includes:
* Promoting the UK economy and the Scottish business environment;
* Helping to restore confidence in business and promoting Scotland and the UK as the international business partner of choice;
* Encouraging more businesses (especially SMEs) to engage in international business activities;
* Briefing UK Ministers and HM Ambassadors on key business priorities and interests as they might arise;
* Meeting overseas Ministers and inward missions; and
* Underlining the mutual business benefits, in terms of global reach and impact, that Scotland and the rest of the UK enjoy together as UK plc, and the importance of that united approach.