Sturgeon’s North America trip: round-up and reaction

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Sturgeon undertaking business engagements in New York. (Credit: Scottish Government)

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been touring the United States of America and Canada this week, giving speeches and meeting governors to “strengthen trade and cultural links between Scotland and the USA and Canada” and in the process, promoting Scotland’s place on the world stage. Here is everything you need to know about Sturgeon’s ongoing excursion across the pond.

Ahead of her trip, The First Minister said:

“Scotland has a longstanding relationship with North America across family, friendship, culture and business. The latest figures released just this week show how important our trade relationship with North America is for our economy.”

The figures she was referring to were those published by her government this week which stated that the USA was Scotland’s leading export destination in 2017 with £5.5 billion going there and a combined £6.1 billion going to North America. The exports to the United States from Scotland was up by 11.1% since the previous year, and it’ll be the first time a First Minister has visited Canada in more than 10 years.


Monday was Sturgeon’s first day of five in the States and she kicked off in Georgetown University in Washington DC to deliver a speech on the “real and growing risk” that the UK will leave the EU with no deal in less than two months’ time.

She also reaffirmed her calls for a second Brexit referendum and hinted to revealing the timing for a second Scottish Independence referendum.

The First Minister said: ”

“I as First Minister have said I will outline my thoughts on the timing of another independence referendum in the next few weeks – once the terms of Brexit have become clearer.

“But amid the confusion and the uncertainty of Brexit, one thing is clearer I think than ever, Scotland’s national interests are not being served by a Westminster system which too often treats Scotland as an afterthought, or too often sees our interests as not being material.

“In my view, those interests can only properly be served by becoming an independent country, but an independent country that then seeks to play its part in an interconnected world.

“And that is a vision that I think more and more people in Scotland, in the wake of the Brexit experience, find very attractive.”

Sturgeon also had an interview with PBS NewsHour about the effects of Brexit in Scotland, as well as conducting business meetings with US companies with connections to Scotland including Verdant Power and the sponsors of Glasgow Warriors rugby team, Leidos.


Nicola Sturgeon meets representatives of the American tech company, Leidos. (Credit: Scottish Government)


Sturgeon spent her second day in Washington DC and then travelled to New Jersey.

She met CEO of Marriott International Arne Sorenson in Washington DC to acknowledge Marriott’s continued investment in Scotland and to hear from Mr Sorenson about trends in global tourism.

She hopped to New Jersey to meet the Governor there, Phil Murphy and they signed a joint agreement to tackle climate change.

Following the meeting, the First Minister said:

“Climate change is a global problem and agreements like these, working in partnership with like-minded administrations, will help us tackle the harmful effects it has on the planet.”


On the third day, the Sottish leader travelled to New York for a number of business engagements. She met with Conway Inc, an American economic development company as well as announcing Scotland will host the 2022 World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment.

It is important to note that there are 550 US-owned enterprises in Scotland that employ over 106 thousand people and have a combined turnover of more than £30 billion.

Sturgeon said:

“Scotland’s performance on FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) is exceptionally strong, and an indicator of the talent, skills and ingenuity in our economy… Hosting the 2022 World Forum for FDI will allow us to build on that momentum, firmly positioning Scotland on the global stage.”

She then attended a Scotland Is Now investor lunch, hosted by IBM, where she addressed an audience of around 50 senior business people about Scotland’s strengths and assets as an investment location and trading partner.

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Sturgeon addresses 50 senior business people at Scotland Is Now investor lunch in New York. Credit: Scottish Government

Then it was on to Morgan Stanley’s Fusion Center where she discussed technology innovation and collaborative projects. The company employs 1,550 people in Scotland and is a key part of Scotland’s financial services industry.

Later, she was appointed the inaugural #HeForShe Global Advocate by UN Women:


Thursday was billed as the day of the official opening of the Scottish Government in Ottawa, Canada.

The announcement of the opening of a Scottish government office in Canada came in August of last year and was scheduled to be opening the following month.

The Scottish government stated that the Ottawa office will:

  • encourage investment between Canadian and Scottish businesses and organisations
  • promote Scotland as a place to work, study and visit
  • develop relationships in key policy areas like climate change, equalities and social enterprise
  • encourage collaboration between business, research, education and cultural institutions

Later, she was joined by Scotland’s national chef Gary Maclean and GlobalScot chef John Higgins who cooked a range of dishes to showcase Scottish cuisine. The menu featured Scottish food and drink available in Canada, including Scottish langoustines, smoked salmon, Scotch Beef, haggis and a selection of Scottish cheeses.


On the fifth and final day of her excursion, Nicola Sturgeon is on her way to Toronto, the capital of the Canadian province Ontario. There, she will open the Toronto Stock Exchange, visit West Neighbourhood House social enterprise and meet with the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

The first minister stated:

“Scotland and Canada have strong historical links spanning family, friendship and trade. And today, Canada is an important market for Scottish exports, including our growing quality food and drinks products.”


There has been a lot of noise on Twitter from Scottish voters and it has been a mixed bag for the leader of the Scottish National Party.

Some have voiced their support for the First Minister:

Pamela Nash writes for The Scotsman:

“The Scottish Government is right to promote Scotland around the world, and that means that ministers must also – from time to time – travel abroad to do so… but not [to promote] the cause of independence.”

And some give a more scathing review of Sturgeon’s overseas expedition:

Writing in The Spectator Stephen Daisley said:

“Mostly the tour has been about Sturgeon playing make-believe world leader. She has given a (flat, predictable) speech on Brexit at Georgetown university… She’s done the rounds at the UN and even been made the inaugural #HeForShe global advocate, which I think means she gets to star in the next Gillette advert.”


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