Scottish Conservatives call for taskforce to make Scotland the e-commerce capital of Europe
Scotland should become the e-commerce capital of Europe, the Scottish Conservatives have said, as they set out their plan for economic recovery after coronavirus.
The party wants to establish an e-commerce taskforce made up of digital teams from universities, colleges, the private sector and recent graduates to help build the digital capabilities of Scotland’s businesses.
The aim would be to help move 5,000 to 10,000 businesses a year online in order to increase trade with existing and new markets.
Only around nine per cent of Scottish firms use enterprise resource planning software to manage their business processes digitally, as opposed to 24 per cent in the rest of the UK and 34 per cent in EU.
The proposal to build digital business capabilities is one of five points in the Scottish Conservatives’ economic recovery plan.
They are also calling for more support for local high streets, including increased car parking, reduced business rates and a ‘buy local’ campaign, and more localised procurement by public bodies, increasing the percentage of microbusinesses receiving public funds to 10 per cent in the next year and 20 per cent the following year.
The other two points propose creating new trade offices across the UK regions and a new virtual network of ‘global Scots’ to connect Scottish businesses to overseas markets.
Later in the summer the Scottish Conservatives will publish a fuller industrial strategy for Scotland, but they suggest the five actions could be implemented as an immediate response to issues caused by coronavirus.
Maurice Golden, Scottish Conservative shadow economy secretary, said: “This week saw a long report from the SNP repeating much of what we already know and floating far-off plans.
“But our economy needs urgent action – now is the time for specific and targeted improvements to save jobs, save businesses and save communities.
“Many long-term weaknesses of the Scottish economy have been further exacerbated by the COVID crisis.
“The SNP’s economic policy has been exposed for what it is – patchy, weak and wholly unfocused.
“There is no public agency able to shift Scottish business online en masse. We need a specialist team to lead the charge.
“We are starting from a low base but establishing Scotland as the online capital of Europe moves our economy in the right direction at the right time.
“The Scottish Conservative plan is ambitious, relevant and practical and most importantly, it can be implemented now.
“The SNP approach is too much talk. It's time for action.”