Scotland's International Framework: China engagement strategy

Scotland's commitment to a strong, long-term, bilateral partnership with China.

Strategic Objective 1 – Global Outlook


To enhance Scotland's global outlook, we will embed internationalisation and create an environment which encourages knowledge exchange. We will provide targeted support to our people, businesses and institutions to help them to seize international opportunities. We must also understand the impact of our work on others.

Trade and Investment

The Scottish Government's Trade and Investment strategy aims to boost export performance and to attract inward capital and risk investment to Scotland. Similarly the Chinese Government's ongoing policy of 'opening up' and economic programmes such the Belt and Road Initiative, and Made in China 2025 put trade and investment at the core of China's international ambitions.

There are huge opportunities for Scottish companies to work with China, particularly in energy, technology, engineering, financial services, financial investment, food and drink, life sciences, tourism, textiles and education. Through our Enterprise agencies, in particular Scottish Development International's offices in Scotland and China, we can help Scottish companies to trade in China and identify opportunities for Chinese investors in Scotland. Organisations such as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, the China Britain Business Council and our universities have well-established connections to China and valuable experiences to share. Through all our engagement, we also recognise the need to support the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

China's growing middle class, which is predicted to account for more than a third of its population by 2030,* already has an appetite for Scottish premium products such as whisky, salmon, textiles and tourism. This looks set to continue and diversify as new Scottish products become popular in the Chinese market.

The Chinese energy system is – like Scotland's – experiencing rapid change. Our 2050 Energy Strategy commits us to building on Scotland's expertise and reputation for excellence in energy exploration, generation, infrastructure, and system management, by forging collaborative partnerships with other countries.

*Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit

What is our long-term ambition?

  • Support more Scottish companies to do business successfully with China.
  • Increase Scottish exports to China.
  • Support Scottish companies operating in China to increase their revenues.
  • Scotland is seen as a preferred trade and investment partner in China in energy, technology and engineering, financial services, food and drink, life sciences, tourism, textiles and education.
  • Seek further investment from China into Scotland, with a focus on new high value investment.

Find out about some of the organisations involved

Trade and Investment

  • Chinese tourism group Ctrip bought Scotland-based online search company Skyscanner for £1.4bn in 2016
  • Exports of Scottish salmon to China increased 30% to £69 million in in 2017 (source: HMRC)
  • Scottish Development International has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen
  • Scotch whisky exports to China increased 47% to £61 million in 2017 (source: HMRC)
  • China is Scotland's 17th largest export market (source: Export Statistics Scotland 2016)
  • Trade and investment opportunities in energy, technology & engineering, financial services, food & drink, life sciences, tourism, textiles & education
  • China is for the first time a top 5 source of inward investment to Scotland (source: EY Attractiveness Survey 2017)
  • 10 Chinese owned enterprises in Scotland employing 2,630 people (source: Businesses in Scotland 2017, Scottish Government)

Scotland's commitment to a strong, long-term, bilateral partnership with China


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