First Minister visit to China
Strengthening governmental, cultural and business links with the world's leading economies are a key part of Scotland's economic recovery, First Minister Alex Salmond said as details of his forthcoming visit to the People's Republic of China were announced.
Mr Salmond and Anne MacColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International, will travel next weekend for a series of high-level government, cultural, business and trade engagements in several mainland cities and Hong Kong.
The FM will attend and address a St Andrew's Day celebration in Beijing, scheduled to coincide with his visit, following his arrival next Saturday and then travel the following day to the Eastern Qing Tombs - the latest international site to be included in the 'Scottish Ten' 3D digital scanning project, which is led by Historic Scotland.
Following two days of government, cultural and business engagements in Beijing, the FM will travel on December 7 to Shandong Province, where renewables and other clean-tech opportunities for Sino-Scots collaboration will be discussed.
He will then travel to Shenzhen, one of China's most successful (and its first) Special Economic Zones, to meet the China Development Bank and address a trade & investment seminar hosted by SDI, and also attended by Scottish businesses on a trade mission led by the Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI).
The week-long visit will conclude in Hong Kong, and feature meetings with existing and potential investors in Scotland, including at a hotel investment seminar, and a return meeting between the First Minister and Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive of the Special Administrative Region who made an official visit to Edinburgh in September.
A new Scottish food and dink strategy for Asia will be launched during the visit, with events in Beijing and in Hong Kong to further promote exports of quality produce.
Mr Salmond said:
"China is the world's fastest growing major economy and it is vital that government, business and other organisations enhance our already strong ties with this great nation. We must continue to promote Scotland as an attractive proposition for investment, trade, research, tourism and cultural associations - and that will be our focus.
"On-going Scottish Government and industry engagement with China has, in recent years, helped secure 'geographical status' for Scotch whisky and an immediate rise in exports from £44 million to £55 million last year. It has also helped us achieve approval of direct Scottish salmon imports into China. In just six months after the first exports were agreed, China has become the largest export destination for Scottish salmon in the Far East - delivering an initial £12 million boost to the industry here, with much more to follow.
"While there has been much to celebrate in recent years, we remain conscious of the need to nurture and strengthen our ties with China. While building on successes in sectors such as food & drink and energy, we are exploring other areas, because ever-closer engagement with China, as indeed with the other major international economies, is a key part of our strategy to secure economic recovery for Scotland.
"Working with SDI and our enterprise agencies, we have secured a series of positive job announcements from major international companies over the last 12 months, including Amazon, Avaloq, Dell, Doosan Power Systems and FMC Technologies - and the prospect of further investment in key sectors following my recent visit to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
"In China, we intend to continue to promote Scotland's world-leading products and services, particularly in industries with significant growth potential in the country. China and Hong Kong offer huge potential and we want to help pave the way for more firms to identify opportunities, and ultimately bring investment and jobs to Scotland.
"I will also be exploring further opportunities for cultural exchange between our two nations, and I'm pleased that I will be able to personally visit the Eastern Qing Tombs which will be part of the Scottish Ten I discussed with Vice Premier Li in Scotland in January.
"I also look forward to returning to Hong Kong and meeting Chief Executive Donald Tsang, after welcoming him on his first visit to Scotland earlier this year, when we agreed to work together to strengthen our economic, education, cultural and sporting links."
This will be the First Minister's third visit to China and follows January's visit of Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang to Scotland at the start of his four-day trade mission to the UK.
The FM subsequently met the Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming in the summer to discuss deeper trade, investment and educational links between the two countries and, in September, welcomed Vice-Minister Liu Qi of China's National Energy Administration and other senior Chinese energy industry leaders during their visit to learn more about Scotland's offshore wind industry.