International Trade

Why International Trade is more important than ever

It has never been more important for businesses in the Highlands and Islands to target global markets, writes Martin Johnson, HIE’s head of international trade and investment.

At the same time global markets have never been more accessible to the region, so we are in a good place.

With Brexit high on the media agenda and at the forefront of many minds across all business sectors, Scotland’s and the UK’s future place in the world remains uncertain. While we do not know what lies ahead, we can confidently predict significant change for just about every sector of our economy, whether tourism, food and drink, life sciences, energy or creative industries. Therefore, businesses need to do what they do best – promote and sell their products and services.

The Highlands and Islands has a very strong track record of international trade, from the earliest days of selling seafood and agricultural products, to more recent times of medical supplies and globally attractive tourism destinations. There are many examples in every part of the region of businesses that have traded across all quarters of the globe.

Now, with the massive improvements in digital and mobile connectivity, transport and infrastructure, there is huge growth in e-commerce; selling and delivering products and services online.

The transport of people and goods is quicker, easier and more affordable. There is global growth in the middle classes, with money to spend on fine food and drink or holidays, many of whom will see the Highlands and Islands as an attractive prospect. This strengthens, and provides new opportunities to building on, the region’s existing international reputation for quality.

At Highlands and Islands Enterprise our role is to help businesses get the information, advice and support they need to “Brexit-proof” themselves and reach out to the world. Through our programme of events businesses can find out about market opportunities in countries that might be of interest to them and how to go about pursuing these opportunities.

We provide advice and information on all aspects of international trade, and can help towards the costs of expanding global business activities. Our website at hosts a wealth of useful information, self-help guides, and signposting to other sources of support.


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