Scottish Chambers of Commerce opens new China trade office

Liz Cameron
Liz Cameron

Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) has announced the official opening of a new International Trade Office in the city of Yantai, China, as part of a trade mission by a Chambers’ delegation to explore new trading opportunities and links with business, education and government organisations.

The formal opening ceremony was hosted by the Vice Mayor Madame Zhang Bo, together with senior officials from Yantai Municipal Government.

Both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding for trade engagement and partnership, designed to achieve an effective channel for exchange of business between Scotland and Yantai.

The Scottish delegation, led by SCC’s new President, Tim Allan and CEO Liz Cameron, comprised Presidents and CEOs from Chambers throughout Scotland: Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Dundee & Angus, Glasgow, Edinburgh and West Lothian.

They were accompanied by senior business executives, including entrepreneur David Valentine of Valentine International, and former SCC Chair Nora Senior, UK Chair of international PR company Weber Shandwick, who have had a presence working in China for over 25 years.

During the trade visit, which was six months in the planning, SCC held a series of productive meetings with senior business people, highly influential politicians and local government officials including Vice Governor Wang Shujian, as well as national ‘think tanks’ bodies in Beijing, Yantai and Jinan in the Shandong Province

President Tim Allan said: “The Chinese economy continues to grow at a faster pace than western economies and the rate of growth within new cities such as Yantai and Jinan opens up the potential for Scottish businesses to promote and sell goods and services which Chinese businesses Chinese businesses and consumers want and need. That demand, together with a more recent policy of ‘opening up’ to new trading partners and overseas alliances by the Chinese, presents a myriad of opportunities for Scottish businesses to capitalise on.

“The aim of our mission was to strengthen relationships and increase engagement with existing and new contacts in sectors where there are direct B2B or knowledge-share opportunities for Scottish companies. Yantai is a city of 7 million and SCC’s base in Yantai will enable us to plan a comprehensive approach to exploiting the many opportunities in Yantai and further afield.”

Shandong Province represents the third largest economy in China with a population of over 97 million and a GDP in excess of 6.3 trillion yuan (£0.7 trillion). It is China’s best wine growing region accounting for over 25 per cent of all wine production. Yantai is the biggest trading port in North China and in 2016, the city imported over $19 billion (£14.7 billion) of goods and services.

The city of Jinan is home to one of the first national high-tech business incubators and since its foundation in 2002, it has incubated more than 1,000 small and medium sized science and technology enterprises. It focuses on cultivating fast-growing sectors such as biomedicine, ecommerce, energy, environmental protection and new materials.

Key sectors for Scottish interest to meet key economic needs in the Chinese target cities include: electronic information, robotics and artificial intelligence, pharmaceutical, bioscience, R &D, manufacturing, engineering and smart technologies, energy including upstream and downstream products and services, logistics, agriculture, food and drink, and indeed football management.

The accelerated growth of consumers in Shandong province also opens opportunities in consumer goods, recreation and tourism services, financial and professional services and education.

Chief Executive, SCC, Liz Cameron OBE, said: “This exploratory visit is part of the new partnership which was formed between Scottish business, through our extensive Chamber network, and the Scottish Government to utilise the world-wide connectivity of the business community. We now have a deeper understanding of how we can achieve the best exchange for business, where the opportunities exist for Scottish organisations and how we can best pursue these.

“We have also identified several potential opportunities for inward investment into Scotland and will be working with Scottish Government and SDI as well as other trade organisations to explore these and leverage the momentum of change within China.

“Our next steps will be to undertake a deep dive of companies based in Scotland who have products, skills and expertise which have the potential to be exported to the Shandong Province area. Our aim is to add impetus to the Scottish economy by assisting companies who have not previously thought about exporting to grasp the potential that international trade offers.

“The new more open trading environment in fast growing cities such as Yantai, Jinan and the wider Shandong Province, together with the practical advice and direct B2B links Chambers now have within this market, will facilitate more effective trading partnership opportunities for Scottish businesses and educational institutions.”

SCC intends to return to Shandong Province later this year to conclude discussions on further Memorandums of Understanding and explore new ways to foster co-operation between the two countries.

Chambers in Scotland have already led trade missions to Italy, Iceland, Iran, Germany and the US, with further country visits planned this year to a number of key destinations.

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