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Rob Howard & Lauren Layfield 6am - 10am
9 April 2018, 06:23
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed the "astonishing" growth in food and drink exports to China as she begins an official visit to the country.
She said strengthening international trade links are key to promoting inclusive economic growth, social justice and human rights around the world.
Scottish industries and activities are experiencing "growing interest" from the Chinese market and promoting these will be an objective of her first official visit to country in three years.
The First Minister said: "The astonishing growth in Scottish food and drink exports to China in recent years is testament not only to the high quality of our food and drink produce, but also a stark reminder of the huge opportunities open to us in the Chinese market.
"Of course, food and drink is not the only sector that has been experiencing growing trade - total goods exports to China across the whole of the Scottish economy increased by more than 40% last year.
"My visit this week is an opportunity to further promote the best of Scotland in the world's second-largest economy. It will also help to deepen the long-standing cultural, education and tourism links that exist between Scotland and China."
Ms Sturgeon begins her visit in Beijing before visiting Shanghai and Hong Kong later in the week.
She is expected to carry out a series of government and business meetings, alongside cultural and educational engagements.
Scotch whisky accounted for the majority, worth some £61 million - up 45% compared to 2007.
Fish and seafood is also a primary food export valued at about £50 million in 2017.
Ms Sturgeon added: "There is no doubt that, for a country of five million people, Scotland punches well above its weight in terms of international brand recognition and cultural influence.
"Making the most of these strengths is absolutely key to our future prosperity - but it can have much wider benefits as well.
"The more we can strengthen our overseas links and deepen our relationships, the more opportunity we have to promote our values of social justice and human rights around the world."