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Call for Scotland to embrace Asia in event of Yes vote

An independent Scotland would need to look beyond Europe and strengthen its links with China and the rest of Asia, a leading business adviser has said.

David Clive Price, a new Fellow of the Asia Scotland Institute, said Scottish brands were well respected in the Far East and the markets that knew them. "I don't think it would make any difference to the way you are setting up companies or finding partners or building relationships," he said.

"However, the opportunity for Scotland if it gets independence would be greater because it would be more necessary — they would have to find different outlets, not only Europe."

Mr Price, author of a new book 'The Master Key to China', has been holding a series of talks and workshops in Scotland and England, and the latest hosted by the institute will follow in the autumn.

This week the China Britain Business Council published its regular bulletin giving details of "opportunities which could be of interest" to UK firms.

The 95 opportunities span 12 sectors, from agriculture, retail and education to pharmaceuticals, advanced engineering and tourism, and the CBBC says it identifies new openings "on a daily basis".

Mr Price, steeped in China for the past 25 years, commented: "This is one of the ways you can get really thinking about it and the next step beyond that. China has a growing middle-class and a vast amount of new cities expanding beyond belief — cities of 20 million which started off as one million, about 20 of these, and about 130 which are growing from one to 10 million. This is a whole expanding area of opportunity in different provinces."

He said as the new cities filled up with people, they would need all kinds of services. "They are going to be asking for mobile phones and travel services and eventually legal and insurance and a whole nexus of services that will arise. In the past 10 years there has been a quantum leap in the complexity and variety of opportunity — IT, e-commerce, fashion, culture and so on. Education is a big one. You have got your Scottish luxury brands who have done quite well so far, but they will have to adjust their strategies now to take account of the new higher middle class."

Consumers were becoming more discerning and sophisticated, and firms would need to attune their brands more closely to local cultures.

"They need to find Chinese partners they have done due diligence on — maybe two partners, one to keep an eye on the other one. They need to blend into the landscape and know what people want — a Scottish company with Chinese characteristics.

"It sounds rather weird but that is really what you have got to do, you can't go over there and think it is your normal brand and behave in your normal business way."

Mr Price said that while China offered the greatest opportunity in the medium or long run, there were other markets for companies new to Asia such as Hong Kong and Singapore, which could be a jumping-off point. Companies targeting the likes of the Philippines, Malaysia or Korea with the right strategy and methods could be up and running there within two years. "This is the Asian century, Europe is going to almost pale in comparison...through time we can really turn our sights towards these Asian dynamic markets because that is really where the future is."

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