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Scotland to forge GCC trade links independently of UK

A salmon farm in the Isle of Skye Unsplash/Craig Thomas
A salmon farm in the Isle of Skye. Farmed Atlantic salmon is among Scotland's biggest exports, and non-oil trade with the UAE was worth $870m in 2022
  • Scottish minister signs MoU with UAE
  • Partnerships from education to research targeted
  • Non-oil trade climbing

Scotland will continue to build relations throughout the region even after a long-awaited trade deal between the UK and the GCC is signed, according to a government minister.

Neil Gray, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for wellbeing economy, fair work and energy, signed a memorandum of understanding in the UAE last week with Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, minister of state for foreign trade.

The MoU aims to pursue bilateral trade and private sector and academic partnerships in advance technology, innovation, education and research.

“We have a responsibility to the Scottish economy and the people in Scotland, Scottish businesses and industries, to be making as many connections as we can ourselves,” Gray told AGBI.

Scotland does not have the power to negotiate trade deals with countries, as this is reserved to the UK government, which is preparing to enter a fifth round of free trade agreement talks with the GCC.

The agreement could boost the Scottish economy by more than £270 million, according to UK government estimates.

“We obviously have an interest in making sure that when a trade deal is signed, it aligns with our economic and social policies,” Gray said.

“That’s not always the case, because these are getting negotiated on our half by the UK government.”

The UAE and Scotland shared non-oil trade in excess of $870 million in 2022, an increase of 70 percent over 2021, with Scotland exporting goods worth $625 million to the UAE, representing 8.6 percent of all UK exports to the country.

Dr Thani said: “The UAE and Scotland are increasingly like-minded partners, two nations who are leveraging technology, innovation, investment and talent to transform our economies and deliver new chapters of success.”

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