Scotland and Shenzhen
First Minister Alex Salmond has secured links for Scotland with the key city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, in southern China.
Plans to twin Shenzhen with a major Scottish city will now begin with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) anticipated for the near future on the basis of collaboration in biotechnology, renewable energy, education and culture.
At a trade and investment seminar, the FM told 50 of the top global hi-tech companies in Shenzhen that Scotland holds great potential trade and investment opportunities. He highlighted how Shenzhen has been pinpointed by Scottish Development International (SDI) as offering the single biggest trade and investment opportunity of China's 274 provincial cities, particularly in the areas of research and development, new product development and in the introduction of Scottish innovation to hi-tech sectors in China.
Backing the First Minister and SDI in Shenzhen was a trade delegation of 20 Scottish businesses and educational organisations led by Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI).
Mr Salmond said:
"The challenges of growing today's economy mean that we must be open to opportunities to welcome inward investment. Scotland has a reputation as a world leader in the research skills needed to tackle the many challenges posed by all aspects of engineering, medicine and climate change, and we are well-placed to attract investors and to provide a gateway to the European marketplace.
"Where better to speak directly to businesses about the opportunities Scotland presents than Shenzhen, one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and home to some of China's most successful quality brand high-tech companies - such as Huawei - a Chinese national company that has developed into a global company. There is little doubt this city will be the source of China's next wave of international companies and therefore it is essential Scotland makes its presence known early in Shenzhen's expansion.
"Scotland is a land of innovation and invention - but to build strong, long-lasting relations you must develop cultural understanding and friendship between people. Today I met with the Mayor Shenzhen, Mr Xu Qin, where we both agreed to lay strong foundations on links between Scotland and Shenzhen. Those foundations will now be laid through the proposal to twin Shenzhen with a major Scottish city, and a formal agreement to link us both through culture, education and commerce."
Earlier, the FM met one of China's largest hi-tech companies, telecoms giant Huawei, which already has active research programmes and staff based in two Scottish Universities - Heriot Watt and Dundee - exploring the next generation telecoms technology. The FM also visited China Development Bank, a state owned bank that leads in the funding of Chinese companies international ambitions.
SDI believes that Scotland's growing reputation for innovation and R&D mean it is well placed to tap into these Chinese firm's ambitions for growth and their need for new innovation and new products.
SDI Chief Executive Anne MacColl said:
"We have been targeting a number of provincial Chinese cities through strategic engagement plans in recent years, and believe that Shenzhen offers a huge opportunity for Scotland - particularly in terms of R&D and innovation for the technology sectors.
"Like China, Scotland also recognises that innovation and R&D is a vital part of economic development, particularly in key industries like enabling technologies - where Scotland has a real competitive advantage on the global stage.
"This visit will give Scotland, our companies and educational organizations, the opportunity to showcase first hand our expertise and knowledge directly to leading Chinese companies."
Robert Armour, Chair of SCDI, said:
"China is one of the great economic success stories of the 21st century and for Scottish companies the prize of winning business in this fast-growth market is not only enticing but most definitely achievable. We welcome First Minister Alex Salmond's leadership of this trade visit and the reinforcement of Scotland's commitment to supporting our businesses in achieving their global ambitions.
"China is a dynamic and competitive market and Scotland's businesses have a lot to be confident about. We have world-class expertise, skills and excellence in sectors such as energy, education, life sciences, technology, premium food and drink and tourism in which there is an increasing international demand.
"Evidence shows that when our businesses connect and engage person to person, business to business directly in-market they can excel in what they achieve and deliver.
"This is SCDI's 14th visit to China and our 44th visit to Hong Kong and we look forward to maximising the opportunities there for businesses and for Scotland."
The trade delegation of Scottish companies comprised: Anderson Strathern, Ardaich, Brodies, City of Glasgow College, Click Netherfield, Falklrk Whisky Distillery, G7 Consultants, Gentech, HSBC, Midland Electrical, Original skin Co, Platinum Golf, Pongo for Pets, University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh College of Art.