AN independent Scotland would be on course for an instant boom in foreign inward investment like that enjoyed by Eastern Bloc countries following their split from the former Soviet Union, SNP researchers have claimed.

The party said a Yes vote in next year's referendum could lead to a surge in foreign direct investment (FDI) as Scotland would no longer be viewed as an outpost of London.

It pointed to the boom Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia experienced after ending their ties with Russia in the 1990s.

It also produced research suggesting Scotland may be even better placed than these countries, which reclaimed their national identities after the collapse of Communism in Russia.

The study said this was because Scotland, unlike the Eastern Bloc nations then, already has an established market economy.

It states: "There is evidence some of the most recently independent small countries in Europe experienced a surge in overseas investment in the immediate aftermath of independence.

"Experts and business people believe this could be mirrored in Scotland – particularly given many of those countries in the 1990s did not have as developed a market economy as Scotland."

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, director of the pro-independence network Business for Scotland, said: "We know independence can benefit economies in several ways and a growth in foreign direct investment is one of them.

"The internationalism of trade and even the confidence that comes from self-determination can lead to an increase in entrepreneurial activity.

"I was involved in FDI in Scottish Enterprise in the 1990s. FDI is like a sales process and, as with all sale processes, getting your foot in the door as a national brand.

"A cultural standing in the world helps you build relationships, and the support package combined with new connections to world markets and a confident economic outlook can close the deal."

He said Scotland would have an advantage in attracting overseas investment if it was a confident self-governing economy.

Mr MacIntyre-Kemp described its current status as a "far-flung undervalued economic region of London and the south-east."

Stewart Hosie, the SNP's Westminster Treasury Spokesman, said: "This research is a positive and sensible assessment of the potential for an independent Scotland.

"What is clear is that countries emerging into the global marketplace as newly independent places to do business have attracted surges of investment, and there is every reason to believe that the same will apply in Scotland."

Angus MacNeil, SNP Westminster Transport Spokesman, said: "This research shows newly independent countries have a great opportunity to build new business as the economy flourishes and self confidence grows.

"In my portfolio I am constantly being alerted about huge concerns over Air Passenger Duty (APD), most recently with the auctioning of slots for flights from Inverness to Gatwick."

Meanwhile, an SNP MSP has challenged opposition politicians on claims the value of oil was not downplayed by Westminster.

It follows claims, denied by the Conservatives, that Scotland's oil was underplayed throughout the 1970s, which was admitted by former Chancellor Lord Healey.

SNP MSP Maureen Watt said: "I challenge the Tories to show exactly how the value of oil was not downplayed during the 1970s. In reality they are just digging themselves further into a hole."