The Finance Secretary has set a target of increasing exports to be worth 25% of Scotland’s GDP before the end of the decade.
Food and drink are already Scotland’s top international export sector, according to the Scottish Government.
Official figures show exports to the UK were worth £4.5 billion in 2017 and Treasury figures from 2018 show Scotland’s international sales to be worth £6.3bn.
Forbes said: “My commitment is to pursue economic prosperity by investing in our key industries. Whisky exports have increased significantly, which is to the credit of workers across Scotland.
“However, the whisky industry is about more than food and drink. It is also about the impact of tourism and the investment in renewable energy. The overall impact is enormous, particularly in rural and remote parts of Scotland.
“But right now, small businesses are weathering storm after storm. They’ve weathered the impact of Brexit on ease of trade and the labour market, they’ve weathered Covid and the complete shutdown of hospitality and now they’re weathering the cost of living crisis as energy prices soar and inflation eats into their profit.
“If small businesses ever needed a break, it is now. That is why I think the potential ban on alcohol sponsorship of events needs to be rethought, so that we tackle alcohol misuse in the most effective way.”
She added: “Under my leadership, I will re-set relationships and work with everyone including businesses, workers and trade unions in an amicable and constructive fashion.
“We must harness those resources and support people to start businesses, create jobs and be ambitious for growth. It is the foundation stone of the argument for independence: that we have all the advantages and opportunities to be economically prosperous, and that will create secure, well-paid jobs that lift families out of poverty and increase the tax base to generate greater resources to reinvest in our public services.”