First Minister to visit China


First Minister Alex Salmond will lead a trade mission to China next month, undertaking a series of business and government meetings that will take Scottish firms to the heart of the world’s second largest economy and deepen the friendship between Scotland and China.
Across five days the First Minister will head delegations demonstrating Scotland’s expertise, innovation and excellence in the oil & gas and construction sectors.

Key representatives from both industries will be present at showcases, business meetings and government talks in Beijing and Hong Kong.

The trip will also see the First Minister promote a Scottish seafood showcase and events aimed at strengthening education links between Scotland and China.

The First Minister said:

“China is an economic powerhouse with the second largest economy in the world and it is crucial that Scotland strengthens its position as an attractive place for Chinese investors and an exporter of high quality goods for that market.  Our warm relationship is built on mutual respect of each other’s ancient societies, with deep links already established in areas such as culture and education as well as developing business links and diplomatic relations.

“We’ve had great success in recent years, with overall Scottish exports to China increasing by 88 per cent between 2007 and 2012 and the winning of geographical indicator status for Scotland’s national drink helping secure a remarkable upturn in whisky exports to China over the same period.  We have also witnessed a new import deal for Scottish salmon signed in 2011; inward investments from Chinese firms such as Hutchison Whampoa bringing jobs to Scotland and agreements signed with the Chinese government for greater collaboration in the arts, heritage and creative industries.

“But our ambition – set out in the Scottish Government’s China Strategy – is to broaden and deepen these links, increasing opportunities for Scottish businesses to export their innovation and high-quality products in a range of sectors.

“That is why I will lead a trade mission to China, showcasing the expertise of Scotland in the oil and gas and construction sectors, opening doors at the highest level of Chinese business and holding talks with the Chinese Government as well as promoting a separate seafood delegation showcasing the best of Scottish produce at a major expo.

“During all of these discussions, I’ll press home the message that Scotland has a wealth of natural resources, a world-class education sector and a resourceful and innovative people – quite simply, it’s a fantastic place to do business and invest.”

The Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Edinburgh, Li Ruiyou said she was “very pleased” to learn of the “important trip” and added:

“This is a strong indicator of the vigorously ongoing relations between Scotland and China.  Scotland’s enthusiasm and goodwill towards China have been appreciated by the Chinese people and taken as a stance of mutual respect which has helped build up the strong ties between our two peoples.

“Recent years have witnessed the continuous progress of exchanges and collaborations between Scotland and China in sectors like education, culture, tourism, trade and science and technology.

“Looking into the future, the social and economic progress of China and the expertise and high quality products of Scotland furnish favourable opportunities for complementary co-operation between Scotland and China. Therefore, the First Minister’s incoming visit to China will undoubtedly contribute greatly to strengthening this mutually beneficial relationship.”

Anne MacColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International said:

“China has repeatedly identified foreign collaboration as vital to its ambition to develop a high value, knowledge based economy. Scotland’s strengths, for example in oil and gas, construction and food and drink, fit well with China’s priorities. Partnership with innovative Scottish firms can offer real advantages to China, which in turn drives growth in our own economy.

“That’s why we are supporting more than 30 Scottish companies on this visit, giving them direct access to leading Chinese organisations, helping to strengthen existing relationships at the highest levels and delivering business deals for Scotland “

Professor Albert Rodger, Vice Principal, University of Aberdeen and a member of the Oil & Gas Industry Leadership Group said:

“For almost 40 years, Scotland has been a global hub for the oil and gas industry. The sector in Scotland has distinctive characteristics including a global supply chain, a reputation for world leading innovation and technological developments central to increasing recovery levels, and an environment underpinned by continued research & developments from world class academic institutions.

“Industry and academia in Scotland work in unique partnership with skills development, research and knowledge exchange. This powerful demonstration of connected Scotland places industry and academia in a prime position for international engagement. We view China as a key partner and look forward to even greater collaboration through this Trade Mission.”

Karyn Watt, Head of Infrastructure at Anderson Strathern LLP and Group Leader and International Chair of Construction Scotland said:

“There is great work being done by the construction sector in Scotland in creating innovative manufacturing processes and energy-saving designs and the sector plays a key role in promoting sustainable economic growth through employment, building sustainable, safe and flourishing communities and a sustainable environment.

I am delighted therefore to be involved in this mission alongside such a prestigious group of construction industry leaders. It is a wonderful opportunity to support the First Minister in showcasing Scotland’s excellent construction skills and to look at exporting these skills and identifying areas for inward investment.”

Graham Young, Head of Seafood Scotland and Seafish Regional said:

“Discerning buyers in the Chinese market are beginning to recognise the quality of Scottish Seafood and to appreciate the clean environment in which it’s caught. Supported by Seafish and Seafood Scotland, the industry has been working hard to develop contacts and networks, to build long term business relationships, and to capitalise on the exciting opportunities offered by this emerging market.”

The First Minister will leave Scotland on Saturday 2 November for a five-day visit to Beijing and Hong Kong. This will be the First Minister’s fourth official trip to China, building on the successful engagement in recent years.

From 2007 to 2012 exports from Scotland to China increased by 88 per cent, from £265m to £498m and the overall share of Scottish exports to China increased from 1.9 per cent to 2.9 per cent of all Scottish exports.

Far East markets accounted for around 2 per cent of estimated fresh Scottish salmon exported in the years prior to 2011 when the Scottish Government secured a new import deal with the Chinese Government. This new deal followed on from 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 19 per cent in the first half of 2013 with a value of £37 million – with China (£20 million) accounting for more than half of total sales to the region in the first two quarters of this year.

Scotch whisky received geographical indication of origin status in China in 2010, protecting it against counterfeit products. This followed negotiations between the First Minister and the Deputy Minister for General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine during his visits to China in 2009 and 2010.

In 2012, exports of Scotch whisky to China were valued at £71.5 million representing a £29.4 million (70%) rise compared to 2007 when they were valued at £42.1 million. In 2012, exports to Hong Kong reached £20.7 million, up £4.2 million (26%) compared to 2007.

In October 2012, the First Minister announced that mobile company Three would create 381 jobs in Glasgow, almost doubling the size of its sales and support service hub. This follows discussions between the First Minister and Canning Fok, Group Managing Director of Hutchison Whampoa Limited during the FM’s visit to Hong Kong in December 2011.

The trade delegation will involve representatives from the oil and gas and construction sectors. As well as Scottish Development International, confirmed participants are:

Oil and gas: Adrok Group, Addax Petroleum UK Ltd, Aggreko Group, AMEC, Energy Services International, LFH Engineering, Nautronix, The Oil & Gas Academy of Scotland (OGAS), Petrofac, Safehouse Habitats, Unmanned Production Buoy Ltd, Aberdeen University, Universities Scotland.

Construction: Construction Scotland, Anderson Strathern, Thomas & Adamson, Applegreen Homes, BRE Scotland, Holmes Miller, China Britain Business Council Scotland, Nestus, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Barr & Wray.

At the same time as the First Minister’s visit, Six Scottish companies will also attend the China Fisheries & Seafood Expo 2013 in Dalian from 5th to 7th November where they will promote their produce at a Scottish Kitchen sponsored by Seafood Scotland and Scottish Development International.