Megacity one to watch for opportunity – Liz McAreavey
Those of us who know Edinburgh will have never had any doubts about its potential, its appeal and its sheer capacity to amaze, whether that is world leading data driven innovation, number of business start-ups or business survival rate.
Our city’s regeneration, after several decades at the end of the last century which could generously be described as stagnant, was not inevitable, nor is the assumption that the current good times will last forever. We have to keep working, identifying new opportunities for our businesses to flourish and creating a framework for continued growth.
One area where we can make further progress is in attracting international investment and building partnerships with firms based elsewhere. Edinburgh doesn’t want for the number of global companies who already have operations here, but there are always new markets to explore and new pathways to tread.
That is why a number of city-based businesses joined the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce last week on a trade mission to Shenzhen. The Chinese megacity is not as well-known as Beijing or Shanghai, but it is home to more than 13 million people, has the world’s third largest container port and is one of the top 20 financial centres in the world. This mission was the latest step in a burgeoning relationship between the two cities, which goes back to a memorandum of understanding signed in 2013 and a visit to Edinburgh by Shenzhen leaders in 2017.
What amazed me most about this mission was the pioneering spirit, energy and ambition of the businesses joining us. Not only did they create opportunities for businesses collaboration, but they were outstanding ambassadors for our city. We certainly made a big impact with the municipal government – and it will not stop there.
Next year the chamber is looking at running similar trade missions to Dublin, Munich, Philadelphia and Dubai. These are economies that have matched, or in some cases surpassed, Edinburgh’s development in recent years and we see much potential in connecting our businesses to suppliers or customers in those markets.
Whatever the political tussles of the day, and at the moment there are quite a few, Scotland’s capital city must set the standard for international trade, investment and partnerships. Shenzhen might have been our first destination, but it is certain not to be our last.
Liz McAreavey is chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.