External Affairs Minister visits China


Scottish exports, expertise, education and culture will be promoted by Scotland’s External Affairs Minister during a four-day visit to the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Humza Yousaf travelled out on Sunday to undertake a series of diplomatic, cultural, business and trade engagements in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. He will be joined on the visit by Anne MacColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International.

In Beijing on Tuesday June 25, 2013, Mr Yousaf will discuss cultural collaboration between Scotland and China, and Scotland’s expertise in renewable energy and financial services training.

The Minister will then travel to Shenzhen, one of China’s most successful cities, for a day of engagements (Wednesday June 26, 2013) promoting opportunities for Sino-Scottish collaboration in education and the creative industries.

Mr Yousaf’s visit will conclude in Hong Kong (Thursday June 27, 2013), where he will highlight some of the ways in which China is benefiting from Scotland’s expertise in low carbon technology, renewable energy and life sciences.

The Minister said:

“Scottish exports to China have almost doubled in the past five years, from £265 million to £498 million – an increase of £232 million for the Scottish economy – which demonstrates the success of our engagement with China in opening up new markets.

“Notable achievements include securing Geographical Indication of Origin Status in China for Scotch whisky and the award of an export health certificate allowing direct exports of Scottish salmon, which have led to dramatic rises in exports to China.

“Another result of our on-going engagement is the rich and varied cultural dialogue that is blossoming between Scotland and China. We want to build on our successes, such as the Memorandum of Understanding on Culture which is promoting greater collaboration across the arts and creative industries. The loan of two Giant Pandas to Edinburgh Zoo and Historic Scotland’s digital mapping of China’s Eastern Qing Tombs are some of the most tangible symbols of the great and growing friendship between our two nations.

“The focus of my visit is to build on the successes we have secured to date and continue promoting Scotland as an attractive proposition for investment, trade, research, tourism and cultural collaboration – in line with the priorities and guiding principles of our new China Strategy.

“It is vital that the Scottish Government, our agencies and Scotland’s business and education organisations do all they can to continue nurturing and strengthening Sino-Scottish relations, particularly as we pursue opportunities to generate economic growth and ultimately bring investment and jobs to Scotland.”

Anne MacColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International said:

“Scotland’s strengths in innovation and research and development in key sectors of energy, financial services, life sciences and advanced engineering are well matched to the needs of China’s rapidly changing economy.

“We work closely to support innovative Scottish companies and educational institutions, such as Clyde Blowers, SgurrEnergy, Standard Life and University of Glasgow, to help them take their cutting edge research, products and services to this dynamic and increasingly powerful global market.

“We will use this visit to explore opportunities for similar companies to become more internationally competitive by exporting their knowledge and expertise to China, as well as encouraging investors to follow the lead of Chinese companies such as Lenovo, Hutchison Whampoa and PetroChina to come to Scotland.”

Scotch Whisky received Geographical Indication of origin status in China in 2010, protecting it against counterfeit products in China.  This followed negotiations between the First Minister and the Deputy Minister for General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine during visits to China in 2009 and 2010. In 2012, exports of Scotch Whisky from the UK to China were valued at £71.5 million representing a £29.4 million (70 per cent) rise compared to 2007 when they were valued at £42.1 million.

Far East markets accounted for around two per cent of estimated fresh Scottish salmon exported from the UK in the years prior to 2011 when the Scottish Government secured a new import deal with the Chinese Government.  This new deal was announced following the First Minister’s discussions with then Vice Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Scotland in January 2011. Since then the proportion of global sales going to the Far East has risen steadily, reaching 21 per cent in 2013 – with China (£9.6 m) accounting for just over half the value of total sales (£18.5 m) to the region in the first quarter of this year.