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Connections 'woefully under-used'

Firms ‘must take lead in overseas growth’

Liz Cameron

Liz Cameron: international business connections “woefully under-used” (photo by Terry Murden)

Businesses have been urged to take the lead in developing overseas expansion into markets such as China, rather than expecting government to do the work for them.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce CEO  Liz Cameron said international business connections had been “woefully under-used”.

But Scotland’s business-to-business links with China have now reached a “turning point” thanks to the private sector taking leadership.

Ms Cameron is keen to capitalise on the steps taken earlier this year to open the network’s first overseas office in Yantai, a port city in China’s 100 million-population Shandong Province. 

“Businesses in Scotland are now recognising that it is they themselves who have the power to increase the nation’s exporting performance,” she told a business dinner for 200 guests, co-hosted by the education organisation The Confucius Institute and attended by China’s ambassador to the UK.

“The Scottish Government and its agencies have a role in creating the right environment but we can no longer expect them to magically increase the number of businesses who export. We businesses, large and small, must take more of the initiative ourselves.

“The new model we are pioneering with our China engagement exploits international business-to-business connections that have been woefully under-used up to now.

“The China project is a turning point. The pro-active engagement of businesses has been phenomenal and the quick and early successes speak for themselves.”

She continued: “China is a massive market but it is just the start. Especially in the wake of the Brexit vote, Scottish business needs to be taking the lead on forging new trade ties in new and exciting markets throughout the world, and through our Chamber network we will support them in this endeavour.”

China’s ambassador Liu Xiaoming spoke of the need for collaboration with the private and public sectors.

He said: “China and Scotland can find more new areas where our interests converge, where our respective policies align with each other and where we can engage in cooperation.

“This could range from local government collaboration to business and financial ties, from scientific and technological innovation to new energy, and from culture and education to tourism and health care.”


  • Around 50 Chinese companies have investment in Scotland, including PetroChina at Grangemeouth, and travel giant CTrip, which now owns Edinburgh web travel company Skyscanner. The Chinese firm BYD recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alexander Dennis of Falkirk to produce electronic busses with Chinese technology, while Chinese firm SDIC has a major stake in the Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth.

  • Scottish exports to China amounted to £615 million in 2015 according to the Scottish Parliament’s research department, which comprises only 3.2% of the UK’s total £18.7bn

  • Among the outcomes of the April 2017 visit, SCC brokered a three-city visit to Scotland by Jereh Group a $7bn-turnover Chinese oil services company, which took place in August 2017. The visit included the President and the Head of Europe from the Jereh Group interacting and meeting with Scottish operators and suppliers.


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