SEVERAL Scottish businesses are embarking on a trade mission to Mongolia this week and will take part in celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the country and the UK.

Armoured vehicle maker Penman, whisky firm Benriach, smoked salmon specialist Gourmet's Choice and accountants from the Houston Partnership are among the delegation.

They will also be joined by representatives from Glasgow University, the Edinburgh Tattoo and the British Association of Ophthalmologists with the party scheduled to arrive in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator on January 25.

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Along with sector specific meetings and visits to high level politicians, there will be a Burns Supper marking the diplomatic

history between the nations where a bottle of the Glasgow Lord Provost's whisky will be presented to the mayor of Ulan Bator.

Although still one of the poorest nations in the world, Mongolia has a fast growing economy which has been tipped to expand annually at above 10% until 2016.

Much of Mongolia's growth is being driven by the $6.2 billion development of the vast Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine in the southern part of the Gobi desert.

It is being jointly developed by the Mongolian Government plus industry players Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto.

There are already about 15,000 people working there as it gears up to its first commercial production this year.

Several other mining companies have operations in the country while demand in areas ranging from infrastructure and construction to luxury goods is also soaring.

This growth profile has attracted interest from around the world and Scottish firms are keen to explore opportunities.

David Scott, the Honorary Consul of Mongolia in Scotland, said: "The opportunities in Mongolia across many industries are significant.

"There are major knock on effects from the booming mining sector and the infrastructure that comes from a growing middle class in areas like the service sector and education."