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Scotland becoming more reliant on foreign investment

CONCERNS mounted yesterday over Scotland’s dependence on foreign direct investment (FDI) after figures show it boomed last year.

Accounting giant Ernst & Young’s latest Scotland Attractiveness Survey found a record 124 FDI projects came to the country in 2023, a 12.7 per cent rise on 2022, compared to a 6 per cent rise across the UK.

The figures mean that Scotland’s share of UK inward investment has grown from 13.6 to 14.4 per cent over the same period, outstripped only by London for the ninth year running.

Deputy First Minister and SNP economy secretary Kate Forbes said: “Attracting inward investment is critical to economic growth and driving forward strategic objectives in key sectors.”

Others were less convinced of the strategic benefits. 

Economic and social historian at Glasgow University Dr Ewan Gibbs told the Star: “Inward investment can and has brought jobs and new industries to Scotland, but it’s often been attracted by cheap labour or government subsidies too.

“We have to ask why a rich economy like Scotland has been left so dependent on foreign investment?

“It certainly comes at a cost when we allow key sectors like whisky or renewable energy, in which we have competitive advantages, to be dominated by multinationals from other countries.”

Echoing those sentiments, Labour MSP Richard Leonard told the Star: “Two thirds of the commanding heights of the Scottish economy are already owned and controlled outside Scotland — a third in the rest of the UK, and a third overseas. 

“This has been fuelled by foreign direct investment being the only SNP economic policy. 

“The priority for economic development should be driving up indigenous business growth and democratising the economy instead of seeing profits and decision making be outsourced overseas.”

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