Last week I was in Canada to celebrate 150 years of friendship between our two nations and discuss future trade links.

I was honoured to be gifted by the Canadian Government a hand-carved stone sculpture featuring the ship that carried some of the first Scottish settlers to Canada.  This sculpture was crafted from a stone from the shores of Loch Broom, where Hector set sail for Nova Scotia in 1773, the gold-leaf sculpture features an etching of the 18th century ship. The timber base is made from a piece of recovered elm felled in the garden of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Gaelic text on the plaque translates into “Forever Friends”.

This gift commemorates Scotland’s historic friendship with Canada and celebrates the millions of people who share, and have shared, that special connection throughout the ages.

Since the Brexit referendum, the UK Government has indicated that it expects to secure trade deals with nations like Canada.  However, I believe that the UK has failed to give businesses certainty over any future trading arrangements. The ability to boost trade and encourage inward investment with countries such as Canada will be put at risk without further clarification.

Scottish trade with Canada is worth nearly £500 million in Scottish exports a year and around 3,600 Scottish jobs. This must be protected following our withdrawal from the EU. During my trip to Canada, I spoke to businesses and politicians to discuss strengthening our relationship with Canada and ensuring both our economies continue to benefit from mutual trade after Brexit.   

I also spent a few days in America, meeting with a number of importing and oil and gas businesses who are crucial to the continuing success of Scotland’s industries. There I was pleased to announce that a US-backed £1 million research and development project in the oil and gas sector and a £10.5 million investment for life sciences businesses in Scotland received support from Scottish Enterprise.

I was also delighted to appear on American business news programme Bloomberg Markets to explain why the UK Government must involve the Scottish Government in the Brexit negotiations. You can watch my interview here: