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Scotland should keep pound: leader's economic advisors

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Scotland should keep the pound if it votes to leave the United Kingdom in the 2014 referendum, First Minister Alex Salmond's economic advisors concluded in a report due out Monday.

Retaining the British currency "immediately" after a vote for independence could also benefit the remainder of the UK, they concluded.

"In our view it would be in Scotland's interests to retain sterling immediately post-independence," the report says, according to extracts released Sunday.

"It is also the case that, post-independence, this would benefit the rest of the UK to maintain a key trading partner. As nearly 10 percent of the existing UK economy, Scotland would remain one of the largest trading partners of the UK economy.

"There would be particular advantages for the UK in areas such as energy and financial services. Scotland's economy is strong enough and sufficiently aligned with the rest of the UK that a separate currency would not be necessary."

Some argue Scotland would have to commit to adopting the euro as a consequence of gaining full European Union statehood, while others have called for a new currency.

A spokesman for Britain's Treasury said: "Scotland is a wealthy and productive country, but it has achieved this by being part of a wider UK with a strong currency, large single market and international influence that stretches across the world.

"The current system works well for Scotland and equips Scotland for the global race -- it is not necessary to create a complex new system to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

"Scotland is already part of a successful economic union, with significant devolved powers, giving it the best of both worlds."

Salmond's Scottish National Party is campaigning for independence. The three major opposition parties -- Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats -- favour retaining the union.

An Angus Reid poll of 1,003 people in The Scotsman newspaper on February 4 found that 32 percent of people in Scotland supported independence, with 47 percent against. Twenty percent were undecided.

It also found that 14 percent thought they would be financially better off in an independent Scotland, while 38 percent said worse off, 27 percent said it would make no difference and 21 percent were not sure.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130210/scotland-should-keep-pound-leaders-economic-advisors