Scots firms urged to do business in Asia

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Shanghai skyline (picture courtesy of Scottish Development International)
Image caption,
SDI says there are "huge opportunities" in Asia, including China

Scots firms must act now to build links in Asia or risk being left behind, the head of Scottish Development International (SDI) has warned.

Chief executive Anne MacColl issued the call at SDI's Doing Business in Asia event in Edinburgh.

Ms MacColl said Scottish businesses could not afford to ignore the Asian market, which is estimated to grow by 50% in the next five years.

The call came as research showed Scots exports hitting £41m a day worldwide.

Ms MacColl said there were "huge opportunities" across key industries in Asia.

She continued: "Scottish companies must recognise the changes that are happening in the global marketplace, where the opportunities will exist in the future and ensure they are able to respond to what's happening internationally.

"Asian leaders are already putting in place strategies to make it faster and easier to do business in the region and unless Scottish companies act now to develop relationships and partnerships in Asia, they risk being left behind."

She added: "In economic terms if we want to migrate to a higher growth and higher productivity economy, we have to commit to developing an international mindset which raises our international aspirations for Scottish businesses and industry."

'Major challenge'

The Doing Business in Asia event, led by SDI in partnership with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), is primarily aimed at small to medium sized businesses who see trading in Asia as a major challenge.

The event is offering "market clinics" from senior trade diplomats covering 13 different Asian markets including Southern China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

Meanwhile, analysis of HM Revenue and Customs data by RBS revealed about 3,000 businesses in Scotland are currently exporting visible goods (excluding services and intangibles such as financial investments) abroad.

In the second quarter of 2010, the value of these visible exports was £3.8bn, or £41.7m a day - an increase of 6% on the same period in 2009.

However, a parliamentary report last September said Scotland's performance in export markets and attracting inward investment was increasingly patchy.

The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee also said not enough firms were seeking advice from public bodies.

The committee's report called on SDI to update its strategy and services to focus more on increasing the number of firms that saw exports as a route to success.

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