North-east MSP calls for Scotland to develop greater links with Japan

Ross Thomson

Calls have been made for the Scottish Government to do more to develop trade links with Japan.

North East MSP Ross Thomson said the Edinburgh administration should look to capitalise on coming sporting events in the Far East state, such as the Rugby World Cup and Olympics.

The Tory MSP called on the government to develop a five-year engagement strategy with Japan, similar to the one already designed by Aberdeen City Council.

The demand comes after it emerged a potential £10billion trade deal between China and Nicola Sturgeon’s administration had collapsed.

A spokesman for the government said it is “keen to build” on the “already important” ties with Japan.

Mr Thomson said: “Aberdeen City Council has made great strides through its Japan Engagement Strategy, capitalising on the strong links with the north-east of Scotland.

“The Scottish Government has faced embarrassment with the collapse of the £10billion China deal, but that should not prevent future efforts to boost trade links with the Far East.

“A five-year engagement strategy with Japan could help Scottish businesses capitalise on opportunities afforded by major sporting events like the Olympics in 2020, but also help to attract inward investment.”

Mr Thomson, who backed the Leave campaign in the EU referendum, praised the UK Government for “safeguarding thousands of jobs” at Nissan in the north-east of England.

The Japanese car manufacturer agreed to build two new models at its Sunderland factory after “assurances” from Theresa May’s government about the impact of Brexit.

Mr Thomson added: “I have tabled questions at parliament on this issue and feel that the success that we have achieved so far in Aberdeen at council level offers a good platform for national government to follow suit.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Japan is already an important part of Scotland’s trade and investment success. We exported £370million of goods and services to Japan in 2014 and Japan is the 4th biggest source of inward investment for Scotland.

“Scottish Development International (SDI) is already working closely with Aberdeen City Council and Robert Gordon University to boost exports in areas such as subsea technology, to strengthen relations with the city of Nagasaki and companies like Nissan, Honda and Chiyoda and to make the most of the Rugby World Cup and Olympics.

“In June this year SDI hosted Japanese businesses with the Scottish Rugby Union during their Japanese summer tour.

“We are keen to build on this close partnership working and our good relations with Japan for the benefit of Aberdeen and Scotland.”