Scottish business could benefit greatly from better direct relations with their counterparts in China, according to Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie. The SNP member of the UK Treasury Select Committee flew to Singapore yesterday as part of the Treasury Select Committee’s fact-finding mission to China.
Stewart said: “This is now a well trodden path for politicians and business people as we all work out how to build a solid profitable relationship with one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies.
“First Minister Alex Salmond visited China last November and the Prime Minister was there in 2010.
“This is vital. Not just for prosperity here in Scotland but to ensure that the massive imbalances in the global economy are tackled. And these imbalances are huge. While the UK has a National debt of £1 trillion – China has a surplus in 2010 of $305 billion and a staggering $3 trillion in foreign currency reserves!
“To explain the extraordinary success of China, here is another fact. Chinese exports of goods have increased 682% since 1998, to reach 9.5% of the entire world’s exports in 2009.
“Given the size of the Chinese economy and indeed the other large emerging economic powers of Brazil, Russia and India it is astonishing that the UK still exports more to Ireland than the combined value of our exports to all these countries combined (£24 billion as opposed to £19 billion).
“It is incredibly important that Scottish firms export to China and take advantage of the huge opportunities which are there.
“Of course there have already been some notable successes.
“Sales of fresh Salmon to China have risen to almost £20 million since agreement was reached to allow direct exports. Likewise direct exports of whisky have reached almost £64 million. But there is much more that can be done.
“So our visit will see the Treasury Committee meet with Banks and Businesses in Singapore and a heavy schedule in China with the Financial Services Sector, the world’s largest commodities market and a series of meetings with academics, economists from the Chinese banks and Government.
“So while I am there to learn, I will also be taking every opportunity to tell our friends in China that Scotland in general and Tayside in particular is a fantastic place to do business and invest.
“Indeed we have already seen some of this potential with the near £1 billion investment by PetroChina into Ineos, owners of the Grangemouth oil refinery.”