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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-23148: Joan McAlpine (South Scotland)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 14 May 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what information it can provide regarding the Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veteran’s recent visit to North America.

Answered by: Fiona Hyslop 15 May 2019

The Minister travelled to New York for engagements between 4 to 7 April 2019. The programme focussed on engagement with New York diaspora groups for Scotland Week, as well as promotion of Scottish culture, trade & investment, tourism, higher education and food and drink. In addition, the Minister’s presence highlighted the importance of the Declaration of Arbroath and the links between Scotland and the US Founding Fathers, ahead of the 700 th Anniversary next year in his constituency.

The relationship between Scotland and the US is extremely important, reflected by strong economic, cultural and policy links. The US is Scotland’s top export partner with Scottish exports to the US estimated to be worth £5.545 billion in 2017 (17.1% of all international exports).

NeueHouse, on East 25 th Street, acted as a ‘pop-up Scotland House’ venue for a number of engagements at Scotland Week this year, a partnership between the Scottish Government, Visit Scotland and Scottish Development International (SDI) with each having the opportunity to host events for the key stakeholder groups.

On 4 April, at NeueHouse, the Minister attended the annual SDI Stakeholder Reception where he spoke to an audience of businesses with key interests in Scotland.

On 5 April the Minister addressed approximately 50 key members of the diaspora in the New York area including: the St Andrews Society of the State of New York; the American Scottish Foundation; the New York Caledonian Club and the New York Tartan Day Committee.

Minister Dey then met with SALT Hotels, CEO, David Bowd. They discussed SDI’s intentions to continue to work with the company as they continue to focus on hotel development in Edinburgh.

The Minister attended the American Scottish Foundation’s Tartan Day Observance at Bryant Park. The Minister spoke at the gathering of the importance of the shared links between Scotland and the US, in particular highlighting the upcoming 700 th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath and its links to the US. He thanked the organisers and Pipe Bands for participating.

 

The Minister also undertook a business meeting with the ID Co, CCO, Milko Radotic, where it was agreed that the company would collaborate with SDI in building networks and exploring growth opportunities in the US market

The Scottish Affairs Office hosted their annual Alumni Reception. The Minister took the opportunity to engage with alumni of Scottish universities and thank them for continuing to celebrate and champion Scottish educational links.

To end the days’ engagements the Minister attended the NYC Tartan Day Parade Committee’s annual Ceilidh which was attended by approx. 500 guests, including key members of the diaspora community.

On Saturday 6 April to mark the start of Tartan Day, Minister Dey delivered a reading at the St Andrews Society Kirkin o’ the Tartan ceremony at The Brick Presbyterian Church of the City of New York alongside fellow Parliamentary colleagues.

The Minister then had the opportunity to meet with some Veterans who volunteer to support the parade, including Alan Bain, who founded the first Tartan Day parade in New York in 1998. Dan McSweeney, from the Tartan Day committee, welcomed Mr Dey and introduced him to former servicemen and women in the US Armed Forces. The Minister thanked the veterans for their voluntary support of Scotland and discussed veterans’ issues with them.

Following this the Minister and representatives of the Scottish Government, Visit Scotland and Scottish Development International participated in the Tartan Day Parade. The Parade was led this year by Grand Marshall, Sir Billy Connolly.

On the final day of this programme Minister Dey visited Ellis Island to mark Scotland Week activity taking place there. He had the opportunity to witness some highland dancing and Scottish Music before having a guided tour of the Scottish Exhibit on display which highlights the impact of Scots on early America through to the modern day.