First Minister leads trade delegation to China

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First Minister Alex Salmond is leading three high-level trade missions to China this week to pursue Sino-Scottish business opportunities in key sectors including renewable energy, tourism, education and textiles.


First Minister Alex Salmond is leading three high-level trade missions to China this week to pursue Sino-Scottish business opportunities in key sectors including renewable energy, tourism, education and textiles.

  • A Scottish Development International (SDI) textiles mission
  • Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) delegation
  • VisitScotland-led tourism group

Mr Salmond’s programme in Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin follows on from his successful visit to China in Easter 2009, which secured valuable partnerships for Scottish businesses.

This latest ‘Team Scotland’ effort to grow important trade links with the world’s third largest economy will build on recent successes in the Far East, which include:

  • Ayr-based company Neogen Europe signing a partnership agreement with the Chinese Government, expected to bring an economic boost of £10 million to Scotland and paving the way for increased exports to China, driving expansion in Scotland and solidifying Scotland’s reputation for world leading sciences
  • Recent SCDI trade missions to China and Hong Kong generating almost £8 million of new orders for the Scottish businesses in their delegations.
  • Increasing the number of Chinese visitors coming to Scotland by 50 per-cent in the last five years, generating millions of pounds for the Scottish economy

The Shanghai-leg of the programme is focused around the city’s massive Expo 2010, with it’s theme of ‘Better City, Better Life’ and an anticipated 70 million visitors. The Scottish Government has been working with VisitScotland, SDI and the British Council to promote Scotland at this major global gathering as a great place to live, work, visit and do business.

The overall programme will see the First Minister make a number of key announcements about the growing partnership between Scotland and China, including Scottish business opportunities and initiatives to encourage more tourists to visit Scotland.

The FM said:
“Last year I undertook my first ever visit to China, and I was also honoured to join the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic. I am delighted to return this year to build on the success of that visit and to further boost opportunities across a range of sectors where Scotland has real strengths.

“It is vital that the Scottish Government, our agencies and Scotland’s business and education organisations do all they can to continue advancing Scotland’s relationship with China, particularly as we pursue every avenue to build growth and help Scotland emerge as strongly as possible from the global downturn.

“It is a strong signal of Scotland’s international aspirations that there will be three high-level trade missions in China with me next week. The opportunities for Scottish businesses are vast, with China being the world’s fastest-growing major economy, the third largest in the world behind the USA and Japan, with an anticipated growth rate of almost 10 per cent this year.

“I look forward to leading our delegations to a series of events at the Shanghai Expo, where we are supporting a significant Scottish presence to raise Scotland’s profile and to encourage some of the anticipated 70 million visitors to see Scotland as a place to live, to work, to study and to visit.

“As well as Shanghai, and a return visit to Beijing, my programme will also take me to Tianjin – perhaps best known to Scots as the birthplace of Olympic hero Eric Liddell – but now a fast-growing Chinese city of 12 million people, boasting many business and industry sectors of direct interest to Scotland. Engagements have been designed to assist Scottish companies wishing to do business in China gain useful introductions and business opportunities in this dynamic economic area.

“As I did last year, I’ll also be meeting with Chinese ministers to pursue the development of collaborations in trade, investment, education and culture. Such meetings in the past have helped secure substantial co-operation between Scotland and China, such as:

  • A programme of scholarships for Masters scholars from China jointly funded by the Scottish Government and Scottish universities
  • An MoU between The University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine, directed by Sir Ian Wilmut and China’s National Centre for International Research in Stem Cells based at Peking University
  • Neogen Europe, based in Ayr, has signed a partnership agreement with the Chinese Government which will enable the creation of a jointly funded laboratory, using internationally recognised methods to research solutions to China-specific plant health and food safety issues
  • Luye Pharma has developed research collaborations with Glycomar and Scottish Biomedical and a collaborative medical training program under the authorisation of the Chinese Ministry of Health with Edinburgh University

“China is leading global recovery, so expanding trade with such a major market has to be an important aspect of Scotland’s sustainable recovery. The opportunities for Scotland are enormous, and our programme in China will be a vital part of realising this potential for the sake of jobs and investment in Scotland.”

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said:
“Last year China doubled its imports from 50 billion US dollars to 100 billion US dollars, so the opportunities for Scottish companies looking to export to this market are huge. As such, we must continue to forge partnerships with businesses in China and raise awareness of the opportunities this market presents for Scottish businesses.

“We are also stepping up our efforts to attract Chinese inward investment in Scotland, and during the last year, SDI has facilitated over 25 visits to Scotland from potential Chinese investors, including seminars and trade missions across several sectors. We hope that this visit will give further impetus to the development of successful Sino-Scottish partnerships.”

Scottish Council for Development and Industry Chairman Robert Armour, who is taking a mission of more than 20 companies and organisations to Shanghai and Hong Kong, said:
“A key priority for SCDI is to work in partnership with the Scottish Government and Scottish Development International to support more Scottish companies to meet their international trade ambitions.

“China is a huge potential market for Scotland . With the economy expected to grow at 9.5 per cent in 2010 along with opportunities across a range of sectors including food and drink, textiles, transport equipment, and chemicals, and China’s growing middle class, we are confident that we can increase the number of companies from Scotland successfully trading with this dynamic market.

“The level of interest in this visit, and size of the group we are taking out shows that more and more Scottish firms are looking to fast-growing foreign markets, especially with the fall in the price of the pound.”

The SCDI mission will have meetings in Shanghai, a major financial and services centre, and Hong Kong which has close links with Scotland and is the gateway to the growing markets in the increasingly industrialised south of China. SCDIs last four visits to Shanghai and Hong Kong have generated more than £7.7 million of new orders for the businesses on the trip.

VisitScotland Chairman, Mike Cantlay added:
“Scotland has a huge range of experiences that are attractive to the Chinese visitor, from the culturally rich cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh to the accessible scenery and countryside throughout Scotland. Moreover, as the Home of Golf and the Home of Whisky, Scotland is a unique destination for any potential visitor.

“China is key to Scotland’s targeted tourism growth and we are continuing to work closely with the Chinese travel trade and to develop the relationships we have built up in China. We can offer the type of holiday experience that Chinese tourists will undoubtedly enjoy, a fact backed up by the increase in consumer visitor figures in recent years.”

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