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Sturgeon makes pledge

FM in China trade talks amid human rights concerns

Sturgeon signs China deal

Controversial signing:  Nicola Sturgeon created a huge row two years ago


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon flies out to China this week to showcase Scottish business and academia and with a promise that she will raise concerns over human rights.

Ms Sturgeon has been briefed by Amnesty International about undertaking due diligence on any companies with whom she signs any trading deals.

She has already stated that she was willing to raise issues of concern, while representing Scotland’s business interests.

 

She last visited China in 2015, since when Scottish exports to China have increased by 40% to £2.2 billion, according to HMRC statistics. 

China is now Scotland’s 4th most important export market, driven largely by food and drink and whisky in particular.

Ms Sturgeon, speaking ahead of the five-day visit, said: “One of the things I’ll be seeking to do when I’m there is looking for opportunities for our companies to export more of their goods and services.

“We’re also seeing more students from China coming to study in Scotland, over 9,000 now will study in Scotland. And the other area where there has been quite remarkable growth is in Chinese tourism – I think over the last decade the spend by Chinese tourists in Scotland has increased by something like 400%. It’s really remarkable.”

She was engrossed in a controversy in 2016 when she signed a memorandum of understanding with two state-backed Chinese companies promising to invest billions of pounds into Scotland.

Suspicions over the deal were heightened by the lack of publicity around the agreement by a First Minister not known for her shyness.

Ultimately, it collapsed as the government blamed a “climate of hostility” from opposition parties.

This weekend Ms Sturgeon said the incident had not damaged Scotland’s reputation in China “in the slightest”.

She is not expected to sign any memorandums during the current trip.

 

 



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