ANOTHER 12 months gone in a flash but there’s no doubt that plenty was packed in to 2017.

A general election that didn’t quite go to plan for the ruling parties in Westminster and Holyrood, the resultant step back from a seemingly imminent indyref2, the often shambolic progress towards Brexit and mixed indicators in terms of the economy.

Closer to home we have seen strong progress with key elements of the regional economic strategy and diversification agenda. Major construction projects are moving forward and we are seeing strengthening signs that business confidence is starting to recover.

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So, as we look ahead into 2018 and beyond, what’s next?

Last month’s UK Budget saw the introduction of transferable tax history for oil and gas fields in the North Sea, a vital step in allowing the industry to maximise the future economic benefit it will deliver to the nation. This is something that-alongside the Chamber- a number of our members, regional MPs and sector partners have been asking for and the Chancellor responded.

Whether Mr Hammond’s measures represent good news for Scotland remains to be seen however. With an increasing number of devolved powers, it won’t be until after the Scottish Budget on December 14 when we can evaluate both packages together that we will fully understand the impact for businesses north of the border. Business rates, LBTT and income tax are key issues which fall under Derek Mackay’s remit and it will be interesting to see how he responds to what he heard from Westminster.

One of our big ambitions is for North-east Scotland to have truly world class digital connectivity to underpin the economic diversification plan and improve productivity so the Chancellor’s promised investment in infrastructure is welcome.

Our geography makes it challenging to provide ultra-fast broadband connection to every business and household. With six of the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs representing constituencies in the North-east we expect them to back our call for this region to be designated as a pilot for the full roll out of 5G.

More City deals were announced and it’s acknowledged that the progress with the Aberdeen City Region deal has been strong. The Chamber network has been lobbying hard to ensure the Industrial Strategy will have ‘place’ at its heart so it is vital that UK and Scottish Government work together to unlock the potential of our regions by devolving meaningful fiscal powers closer to the point of delivery.

Whatever happens in the months ahead, one certainty is that the Chamber will continue to provide a powerful voice for local business.

Russell Borthwick is the chief executive of Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce.