Brexit superwoman Liz Truss launches trade masterplan – and Nicola Sturgeon will hate it

Brexit: Truss says UK ‘determined’ to have good EU trade terms

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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has brought plans to develop new trade hubs in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the North of England. Under the plans brought forward by ministers, the four trade hubs would be established in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and Darlington.

Ministers say the new hubs would help UK businesses in key industries take advantage of trade opportunities around the world and attract investment across the whole of the UK.

A total of 550 staff are expected to be present in the hubs by 2025, with an ambition to increase this to 750 staff by 2030.

Officials say goods exported from the North of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are worth an average of £98.4billion.

Earlier this month government-led research also revealed exports support 6.5 million jobs across the UK, 74 percent of which are outside London.

But the Express understands it is a blow to Scotland’s own trade objectives with Scottish Development International (SDI) pledging to open trading offices across the UK and world to promote Scotland’s identity and trading needs.

SDI, responsible for promoting Scotland’s trade interests, has an office in London that targets Scottish businesses and helps them establish and grow existing business operations in Scotland.

Scotland’s Trade Minister Ivan McKee also said they wanted to develop an “ambitious, outward-facing Scotland” through Scotland’s trade policies.

In Scotland’s trade vision, Ministers say they wanted to increase engagement and building relationships through hubs and SDI offices.

A Scottish Government source told the Express: “There is a potential conflict here.

“It appears to be in part a political stunt by the Tories to strengthen the Union when we know Scots want to see Scotland’s future in their own hands.”

But International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “I’m determined to use UK trade policy to benefit every part of the UK.

“These Trade and Investment Hubs will help this country to an export and jobs-led recovery.

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“They will mean we can channel investment into all corners of the country, and that exporters – whether they’re selling Scotch beef, Welsh Lamb or cars made in the North of England – have access to the expertise they need to sell into the fastest growing markets.”

Business chiefs also backed Ms Truss’s pledge with chiefs saying the hubs would give Scotland an economic boost.

Tracy Black, CBI director of Scotland, said: “This new hub in Edinburgh can help provide much-needed expertise and advice for businesses of all sizes looking to export and grow overseas.

“To be truly successful they will need go beyond pure promotion, bringing together all parts of the trade ecosystem – from existing Scottish exporters and our world-class services, right through to enablers such as accessible finance, working closely with Scotland’s export office.”

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