5 reasons why an independent Scotland will be one of the world’s wealthiest nations

| 15/05/2014 | 20 Comments

An independent Scotland will have a unique combination of economic assets to build a prosperous and wealthy society.

Medium sized European nations like Norway, Sweden and Denmark are among the richest countries in the world well ahead of the UK. Scotland shares many similar features with medium sized nations.

As set out by Dominic Frisby, there are 5 areas that are crucial to developing a wealthy country in the 21st century.

Scotland has them all and with independence Scotland will have the powers to become better off.


1) Prosperity needs natural resources

Scotland is a resource rich country.

In the energy sector Scotland has phenomenal levels of tidal, wind and wave energy, as well as North Sea resources worth over £1 trillion.

Scotland has vast fish stocks and a considerable agricultural output.

Scotland also has a lot of clean, fresh water – which is becoming an important resource.

Scotland’s beautiful landscapes contribute to a thriving tourism sector.

There are very few countries in the world with such a diverse range of valuable natural resources.

2) Prosperity needs a skilled population

Scotland’s most valuable resource is its people.

With successful universities (5 in the world’s top 200) and colleges, Scotland has a capable and educated population by global standards.

These institutions produce high quality research and teaching. 40,000 international students come to Scotland to learn.

453,570 students in Scotland learn skills in services, tourism, the professions, engineering, construction and all other diverse areas across the economy. (238,805 in colleges and 214,765 in universities)

These skills mean people and companies in Scotland have advantages in key areas listed in point 4.

Investment in education is a long-term investment in the wealth of a community. In this area Scotland has a strong foundation to build on as an independent country.

scotland exports

3) Prosperity needs access to trading markets

Scotland is extremely well placed for trade in the 21st century.

Scotland is a member of the world’s biggest common trading market – the European Union. Scotland also has a strong trading relationship with the United States of America with £3.6 billion of exports.

Geographically Scotland is positioned between England and growth in the Arctic region. An independent Scotland will continue an open trading relationship with England and Ireland, while making the most of future opportunities.

China and Russia are both expanding their trading interests in the Arctic region. Scotland can benefit from the establishment of new trading and shipping routes to its North. This is a huge opportunity for Scotland, which can expand its global horizons with the full economic powers of independence. The work of Lateral North is a key example of this.

In terms of trade – in the EU, with the USA, with the rest of the UK and in the Arctic – Scotland is in a very strong position.


4) Prosperity needs excellent sectors and products

In the 21st century Scotland will compete on quality within the global economy.

Countries like China and India will produce the cheapest goods, so Scotland must focus on output that cannot be reproduced.

Fortunately Scotland already has a substantial number of globally renowned sectors and products that are popular in the global market.

Food and drink, chemicals and digital software technology are contribute to almost £100 billion in Scottish exports.

Scotland’s skills in areas such as oil platform decommissioning, life sciences (biological and medical), research and development, whisky, renewable energy projects, electronics, textile design, the games and film industry are competitive advantages in growth sectors.

This means that Scotland is the best place for this type of work and business. An independent Scotland can expand on this, especially within manufacturing and design.


5) Prosperity needs extensive financial services systems

Scotland has many institutions which can handle large scale financial projects, expansions and investments.

This is important for the opportunities and challenges for an independent country including borrowing on the international credit markets, negotiating and managing shares of national assets and liabilities, and constructing plans for investment, growth and innovation.

The ability of financial companies to manage investment projects remains a key mark of prosperity in the global economy.

Despite problems with elements of shadow banking, other financial services such as pensions management, investment funds and building societies remain at the centre of the economic system.

The likes of Aberdeen Asset Management, Standard Life and Baille Gifford all have big operations in Scotland, which deal with business across the world. Aberdeen Asset Management alone managed assets worth £350 billion as of March 2013, the largest of any fund manager in Europe.

For this reason, Scotland is a perfect financial environment to establish a national energy investment fund.

dominic frisky quote

Conclusion: Prosperity needs independence

Scotland is almost unique in the developed world in having all the ingredients that contribute towards the creation of wealth and value. Other medium sized European countries have used their strengths to become prosperous, successful countries. So can Scotland.

Yet Scotland still lacks the final factor for economic success: self-government.

Independence means the people of Scotland will have their future in their hands. This means that decisions on tax, labour rights, migration, industrial policy, trade and investment and social security will be taken in Scotland’s interest.

Westminster isn’t working. But with independence Scotland will have access to its wealth and will have the powers to improve the economy and create more jobs.

That’s why an independent Scotland will be one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

Share with your friends

If you found this article useful, share this link on facebook, twitter or by email with your friends and family. You may also find our Resource Section useful.

Further reading:

– 10 key economic facts that prove Scotland will be a wealthy independent nation

– 10 economic benefits for a wealthier independent Scotland

Where does Scotland’s wealth go?


Category: Economics of Independence, Scotland's Economy

About the Author ()

Michael is Head of Research with Business for Scotland. A graduate from the University of Glasgow, he has carried out a series of interviews with academics, politicians and the public in Denmark, Iceland and Ireland. Michael's on twitter @GrayInGlasgow.

Comments (20)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. EdNeilly says:

    I can fully understand that the rUK will not be able to order ships from Scotland if we become independent, so why do the Westminster governments order maritime vessels from South Korea? One more point, ship building in Scotland will not die a terrible death if Scotland becomes independent, as the Scottish defense will need to be supplied with what ever vessels and armament that will be needed to secure our shore and land installations.

  2. ian grey says:

    I may go off on a tangent here but we constantly hear about how the shipbuilding on the Clyde is reliant on MOD ordering aircraft carriers and frigates. If we seperate then England cant order their ships from a foreign country in Scotland according to them. What I find strange is why are we not selling more of these ships to our NATO allies. Surely it is good business sense to take orders from elsewhere as these ships are deemed to be the best in the world.We sell all the other weapons made here,to anyone who wants to buy them. Is there a reason as it doesnt make great business sense

    • Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp says:

      The UK does order ships from foreign countries – the way they word it is that they have never ordered a major battleship… that is true but they don’t order too many major battle ships any more! Navel protection vessels have been ordered from other countries and the replacement for Trident possible the biggest military contract ever awarded will go to America.

      Anyway the Professor of Maritime business at Napier University says independence likely to boost ship building. http://www.scotsman.com/news/alf-baird-independence-can-save-scots-shipbuilding-1-3341895

      I ask you to consider over the last 30 years – has the union protected shipyard jobs on the Clyde?

  3. JamesS says:

    Rachel, your words echo my words of a couple of years ago.

    However, if you delve into the annual GERS figures, ONS figures, Treasury figures over the past five years, then a decade and further back you will find your assertions above are based on nothing but politically strategic nonsense we have all been fed for decades.

    I fell for it and within a few days of rolling my sleeves up and researching for myself I was angry at having been so naive all this time.


  4. Jim Osborne says:

    The emphasis on “big finance” seems rather at odds with the advocacy of the strength of “smallness” (the wealth of small nations, etc). There seems to be some evidence that big finance is not very good at supporting the small scale. Scotland’s future economy depends on strengthening local economies and communities and big finance may not be what we need. See this interesting report from Co-operatives UK on “Ultra Micro Economics”:


  5. E E A says:

    These points are true, but then the same all applies to the UK remainder should it be a yes vote.

    And why is having large fish stocks a boon? A developed economy cannot be such by having a large agricultural/primary sector.

    I think Scotland could prosper as a sovereign state, but then it’s virtues as listed here are no different to other current advanced economies.

    • Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp says:

      I think the authors point is that so many people seem to be saying that for some reason Scotland can’t prosper!

  6. colin says:

    resources such as nucléaire coul

    Nucléaire energy

    should,we consider this as a viable option to energy consumption&exportation ,could an indipendant SCOTLAND fortake such an endevour,as a serious player on that stage

  7. Rachel,

    The only restructing required to our public service funding is to repatriate the funds we tax payers in Scotland pay to the UK Treasury to fund things which we do not support or need as a country.

    At best the UK is guilty of benign neglect. Its focus is on the metroplitan south. The only big ticket items the UK government spends in Scotland is Faslane whereas huge public funds are used for Crossrail and HS2.

    A Scottish government will have the focus to invest in big ticket projects like the Lower Clyde to develop it as a global port. Thats sort of development is required to mark a sea change in our fortunes. Singapore has done it, and we must follow. Second city regions in most of northern Europe are flourishing global ports with a quality of life far greater than most of out folk have. Serious money has been invested in these ports and they are deriving the benefit. I think you need a bit more confidence in your self and your peers.

  8. Rachel says:

    This is all well and good, but focusing upon the dream ideals would make any nation potentially the wealthiest. This article also bases a lot of this on the current state of Scotland’s market and finance – with no surety that Scotland would be part of the EU and with a lot of the financial backing which allows free university tuition and healthcare, amongst other things, a independent Scotland would have to restructure the entire welfare system in line with (at least initially) reduced income/finance.

    This article is a bit naive if its thinking this will be the case any time in the next 50 years.

    • Duncan Laing says:

      A bit of a rosy picture but none of what the article says is lies .. everything is there and the FACTS can’t be disputed.

    • Bettertogetoot says:

      Rachel I’m confused! Pray tell. Whose financial backing is paying for our free education, free prescriptions and the likes?

    • Corrado says:

      Glass half empty attitude, never helped.
      I sincerely hope that your attitude on your own life isn’t similar and your ambitions are still alive.
      Otherwise yours is a pretty miserable going, I feel for you.

    • Dear Rachel

      I have my own business that manufactures and exports to 50 countries so I hope you accept my experience on this. The article is not naive.

      In 20 years the union and its overseas embassies has done nothing, repeat nothing for my business to help us export and to employ people.

      This morning I just returned from Dubai and I challenge you or no voters to visit the oil producing countries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Quatar, Brunei, Norway. I can assure you that we live like pigs, yes (PIGS) compared to what these countries have done for their people yet we are much richer than some of them.

      The talk about currency and finance is absolutely garbage. My business trades in any currency the customer wants to pay us in and as long as it’s money that we can take to the bank we accept it.

      Let me give you an example, you have your own kitchen installation company and you give me a quote to install a new kitchen for £10,000 and I give you the contract. You finish the work and I say Rachel, sorry I don’t have £10,000 pounds but here is the same value in Euro or dollars, are you going to refuse it?

      Project fear are lying to our people through their teeth. I have invited many of them to visit my company and not one of them have accepted, so I’ll make you the same offer.

      If you or anyone from the no campaign visit my business and show my staff (not me)one tiniest thing that the union has ever done for us I’ll give you a job at £40,000 per year or I’ll make a large donation to project fear.

      One last thing, not one single company will leave Scotland if we vote YES, they will only leave if its not economical.

    • manandboy says:

      Hi Rachel,

      With facts being made into dreams, I guess you’re already a No voter. I hope you can make it to the Yes side.

      Meanwhile, the No Campaign are dreaming of hanging onto Scotland’s wealth in order to keep the UK afloat.

      Good luck.

    • Julian Gibb says:

      Every silver lining has a cloud!

      I read your post several times and found nothing based upon fact (in contrast to the article).

      Stating something does not make it fact by either campaign but your statements are devoid of any evidence.

      It is very likely that the EU membership would be fast tracked. We have been members for 42years and align with all conditions.

      What financial backing for free university tuition?
      The Scottish budget will be stronger and more able to afford these choices. You make the assumption that we will continue to spend as per the Westminster model. If we do need to borrow then even at a higher interest rate it will still be lower in real terms than the false allocation of share for debt interest on money not spent in Scotland as at present.

      You must be the only person alive with the confidence to state the economic condition of any nation for a projected period of 50 years.

      To suggest the article is naive in a post devoid of any constructive assessment is an insult to the author AND to other readers.

      Once again we have a well constructed arguement laid out in an article attacked by…”you just can’t”

    • bessaditcha says:

      If Scotland can be deny Eu membership that means all Eu citizen living in Scotland must get visa applications for them to live in.So do you really believe Eu countries want that?

  9. David Keenan says:

    Hi There,
    I think it can be safely said that the Oil wealth we could have had has been squandered and it is important that we invest or spend the remaining amount wisely.
    My question relates to our potential renewable energy resources; what would you like to see to happen once this is underway? Can a renewable energy fund be set up and are there any estimated figures as to how much this could be worth?

    Many Thanks and keep up the great work

    Best Wishes,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *