The much anticipated Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Annual Business Address brought together the most influential business leaders, media personalities and politicians from Scotland, UK and internationally.

Sponsored by Heathrow Airport and SSE plc, the annual celebration showcased the best of Scottish business and entrepreneurship as well as the achievements of the Scottish Chamber Network. The evening presented the opportunity to hear from an array of inspiring industry leaders which included, Stephen Leckie, President, Scottish Chambers of Commerce; Raymond Buchanan, Chief Communications Officer, SSE; Lyndsey Teaz, CGI Vice President for Glasgow Metro, Scotland; Nigel Milton, Chief of Staff & Carbon, Heathrow; Neil Gray MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, The Scottish Government and Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

Opening the evening Stephen Leckie, President of Scottish Chambers of Commerce addressed the national audience of Scottish business leaders sharing: “Our economy is at a crossroads. There are clear decisions that must be made – many in the hands of our respective political leaders. What I say to them is that the direction you take will determine the fate of our people, our economy, and businesses for generations to come. As we approach a General Election next year, regardless of which direction the political wind is blowing, we need our politicians to reach a consensus on economic growth. Political will is essential to take the first step and the Chamber Network is here to work with you to create growth and opportunities.”

Setting out the top priorities for the Scottish business community, Stephen Leckie outlined: “Looking ahead, I have no doubt that by focussing on three things – first, competitiveness, second, internationalisation and third, sustainability, that Scotland is well-positioned to capture future sustainable economic growth.

Taking each in turn – how can we restore Competitiveness? I’d call on all Governments to avoid policy decisions which create unintended consequences against businesses. I’d ask our leaders to stop taxing and disincentivising business growth and entrepreneurship. When I speak to businesses, we talk and discuss what the tipping point is on income tax – are we attractive as a place to work and live? For some the answer is yes but for some it’s no. That’s why we need a long-term tax strategy and a clear policy agenda – laser-focused on business confidence and investment.

Turning to Internationalisation efforts – what can be done here to turbo charge our exports? We all agree exporting and internationalisation must be rapidly expanded to increase the number of Scottish companies doing business abroad. From a Scottish Chambers perspective, we believe that collaboration and partnership is the route to turning the dial. An evaluation report on Scotland’s export promotion support was published which underscores this approach. 80% of firms found Scottish Chambers trade missions to be useful in helping to introduce new products to export markets and the collective Team Scotland approach is on track to deliver an additional £4 billion worth of export sales. Clearly this route is key to scaling and growing our international ambitions.

Third – Sustainability: We are all alert to the opportunities and challenges to deliver sustainable economic growth. That’s why your Scottish Chambers Network will be leading this agenda and showcasing our potential to the world at COP28 in Dubai in partnership with Scottish Government. SCC will send a delegation of Scottish companies who will showcase our solutions and innovations to reaching net-zero, highlight Scotland’s global reputation and attract investment into Scotland. We must work collectively to deliver our just transition to net-zero.”

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce had the pleasure of being joined by Neil Gray MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work & Energy, The Scottish Government who commented that business is at the heart of our economy and drives the growth we need to realise a fair, green and growing wellbeing economy – creating the jobs, driving the innovation and exporting our goods. He called for even greater partnership and collaboration as he shared his ambition to bring the business community and government closer together in the interest of growth.

On the night, Neil Gray MSP, shared his commitment to strengthening the partnership with business and consulting on policy. He said: “The voice of business is not just being listened to, it is being put at the heart of government. We have published an implementation plan on recommendations deriving from the New Deal Group and I am very conscious that, to keep earning your trust, I must deliver on it.

“This will not provide a solution to all policy issues or stop differences of opinion, but I hope it will ensure that we operate based on no surprises. Our policy should be informed by your expertise and your business planning should be informed by clear, early signals of policy.”

Closing off the speeches for the evening, Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers said: “Let’s be clear, we are not out of crisis yet. That is why we need decision makers to support us by designing policies which promote a new economic narrative which enables growth. What we do not need are blockages and barriers which recently have resulted in painful and expensive consequences for business.”

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce would like to thank all our sponsors, partners and attendees for joining us at this year’s Annual Business Address. For partnership opportunities or to book your place at our 2024 Annual Business Address contact