I am proud, having spent many of my formative years in Scotland, to be bringing the benefits of free and fair trade to every part of the United Kingdom.
Today I am seeing those benefits for myself by visiting key Scottish businesses, which can now gain from the agreement we struck with the United States to remove tariffs on our exports of whisky and cashmere.
Suspending tariffs on £550 million worth of UK exports makes Scotland’s finest goods even better value for consumers in the huge American market.
Boosting exports to the UK’s single largest trading partner means more money for Scottish businesses, from distilleries like Cardhu to knitwear makers like Johnstons of Elgin, to invest in their staff and future growth.
On average, over three bottles of Scotch whisky are shipped to the US every second.
It is estimated the industry supports around 50,000 jobs across the UK. That shows how widely the benefits of these newly suspended tariffs will be felt.
This builds on our ongoing work to help businesses thrive across the Atlantic. We saved our exports of gin and beer last year from new tariffs and removed them altogether on exports of shortbread – in good news for companies like Walkers and its 4,000 employees.
Together with our American allies, we are showing our determination to stop senseless trade disputes like the long-running feud over Boeing and Airbus from holding back our businesses.
We will work flat out over the next four months to ensure the newly suspended tariffs are gone for good as part of a fair settlement.
We know that trade equals jobs, as new research released earlier this week made clear.
The Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde estimated that nearly 6.5 million jobs across the UK relied on exports. Most of the jobs – 3.7 million – are supported by exports to nations beyond Europe, which shows the importance of embracing our global future.
Three in four of these trade-linked jobs are found outside London, including around 468,000 in Scotland.
They are also more productive and higher paying, which shows that exporting is key to levelling up the UK by supporting high-quality jobs in well-paid industries across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Our mission is to unleash the potential of every part of the UK. That is why the Department for International Trade launched last September a trade and investment hub in Edinburgh, which has been helping thousands of Scottish businesses to seize the unparalleled opportunities available through trade.
We are just getting started. The trade and investment hub will work closely with credit agency UK Export Finance and our newly established Office for Investment to see more Scottish businesses excel.
Free trade has made our country great by lighting the spark for job creation, enterprise and innovation.
The Scottish people have been at the forefront of our success, from Adam Smith championing free trade in the 19th century to the modern entrepreneurs bringing home its benefit, whether it is the Scotch whisky distillers and Edinburgh financial services selling across the world or the Dundee developers behind best-selling games like Minecraft.
As an independent trading nation once again, we are building back better by harnessing the power of free trade to fuel our recovery and future prosperity.
Together, we are strengthening the bonds of our Union by showing the benefits of being a United Kingdom.