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Salmond: iScotland manufacturing increase could boost exports by 50% and create 100,000 jobs

A plan to increase manufacturing in an independent Scotland by almost a third by 2030 has been announced by the First Minister.

In the long-term, the strategy could see a 50% rise in exports, boosting employment by more than 100,000 jobs, Alex Salmond said.

The plan includes the creation of a Scottish Innovation Agency and a Scottish Business Development Bank alongside tax measures to support industry.

Government investment will be targeted at reindustrialisation while a network of 70 to 90 overseas offices will also be set up to boost exports and Scotland's international profile.

Mr Salmond unveiled his strategy as he visited a factory in Dunfermline.

He said: "We are renowned across the world for our engineering brilliance, our rich industrial heritage and our spirit of innovation.

"We have substantial natural resources, a highly-skilled workforce, a long-standing reputation for innovation and an internationally-recognised brand, with products and companies competing at the highest level in international markets.

"We already have world-class manufacturing companies and Scottish economic performance has improved with the limited decision-making powers of devolution."

Mr Salmond added: "We recently set out how we could grow our economy to generate additional tax revenues of £5 billion a year by 2029-30 by using the powers of independence to increase productivity by 0.3 percentage points per annum, boosting the working-age population and increasing the employment rate by just over three percentage points.

"This strategy is one of the ways we can ensure this works for Scotland."

The strategy was welcomed by pro-independence group Business for Scotland but Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Mr Salmond should concentrate on Holyrood's existing powers to improve the economy and create jobs.

Mr Rennie said: "Just last month the SNP scrapped their own plans to create a specialist business development bank and Alex Salmond wants us to leave behind the world-leading UK trade promotion network and replace it with something smaller. That is not the way to boost exports.

"We all want to see Scottish industry thrive. But walking away from the positive things we share as part of the UK family is not the way to build a stronger Scottish industrial sector and get more Scots in work.

"The First Minister needs to spend more time using the powers he already has to support industry rather than picking numbers out of the air to support his independence claims."

Ivan McKee, a director of Greenfold Systems Ltd which hosted the launch of the strategy, said: "We finally have a government that is giving business in Scotland a fighting chance.

"After decades of neglect the last few years have seen some advances for small and medium-sized businesses and now there's a long-term plan to improve the business environment - it's refreshing to see that vision and to feel that our needs are being taken seriously."

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), said: "The STUC enthusiastically welcomes both the launch of this report and the First Minister's strong commitment to growing manufacturing in Scotland.

"We will now study the report to ascertain whether the measures it outlines are sufficient to overcome the long-term structural problems that afflicted manufacturing across the UK.

"Given the rate of productivity growth in manufacturing and the sector's reliance on growth in key export markets, the STUC is unconvinced that placing a target on output growth is necessarily that helpful. It certainly should not be read as implying strong related jobs growth.

"The STUC looks forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue with the Scottish Government on how manufacturing jobs might be secured for the longer-term."

Mr Salmond said the plan would focus on new manufacturing opportunities such as renewables, life sciences products and skilled engineering.

"We have a tremendous record with innovation in Scotland. What we have to do is turn that innovation into products, into sales, and therefore into jobs," he said.

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