SCOTS business chiefs have signed an historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) with their Chinese counterparts that opens China’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure to Scottish firms.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) signed the agreement with the China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC), as part of the Belt and Road Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing, on the eve of a 10-day SCC-led trade mission to Shenzhen, Beijing and Shandong Province. The mission, which builds on gains from several SCC-led initiatives in Beijing and Shandong, is expected to deliver substantial trade agreements for participating Scottish businesses.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a central policy of President Xi Jinping is aimed at linking China to the West via a land and maritime infrastructure network across Eurasia.

It is estimated that it will require between $4 to $8 trillion (£2.89 to £5.69tr) of investment and will offer a wealth of business opportunities to non-Chinese companies.

The 11-point MoU was signed by David Valentine, SCC’s international trade ambassador for China and Sun Xiao, CCOIC director general for multilateral cooperation, at the two -day forum, which was attended by 500 Chinese officials, national leaders and business representatives from more than 70 countries. It establishes a platform by which China’s government-led trade body will “provide information and support on trade and investment opportunities” to Scottish businesses “and assist them to overcome problems in international trade and economic cooperation”.

The agreement will establish a pattern of regular meetings between SCC and CCOIC to promote economic co-operation and exchange regulatory, political and environmental information designed to facilitate access for Scottish companies. This will allow them “to contribute to increasing business and trade associated with the Belt and Road Initiative”.

Valentine said: “This is an historic agreement that will give Scottish businesses enhanced access to one of the most ambitious and visionary infrastructure plans of the modern era. It marks a step change in the development of B2B links between Scotland and China. Forging relationships such as these is the key to improving Scotland’s share of UK trade with the world’s most populous nation.”

Liz Cameron, SCC’s chief executive, will today address a major international conference in Shenzhen, hosted by China’s key internationalisation body, the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA). Over the years, programmes implemented by the body have attracted millions of foreign technicians and technocrats, junior and senior, mostly in the fields of science, technology and engineering.

In her keynote speech to the conference on the International Exchange of Professionals, she will praise the progress of Scotland’s commercial, educational and cultural links with China, and underline the attractions of Scottish high-end products and professional services to the Oriental market.

She is expected to tell the conference: “The progress of our relationship will depend on the strength of inter-personal relations, and business-to-business organisations.”

Scotland is currently building its presence in China with Nicola Sturgeon also promoting Scottish business while in the country.