A DELEGATION of Scottish SMEs has joined a pioneering trade mission to South America as businesses look to new markets in the wake of Brexit.

The International Trade Partnership mission to Colombia – led by Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce – is aimed at forging new trade links in key Latin American industries, including renewables, food and drink.

It is the first-ever trade mission to South America backed by the Scottish Government and involving the Scottish Chamber of Commerce network, and was open to all Scottish registered businesses with a turnover below £7 million.

Through the mission, more than 30 delegates and 16 participating businesses are paired with local partners in relevant industries.

Although the ongoing impact of the pandemic means much of the mission has taken place online, delegates have already had their first round of discussions with prospective partners.

One business hoping to benefit from the mission is Ardgowan Distillery, which recently announced plans for a new multi-million-pound distillery and visitor centre on Ardgowan Estate in Inverclyde.

Its founder Martin McAdam said the firm has already begun working on its Latin American test market strategy as a result of participation in the mission.

The UK’s ambassador to Colombia, Colin Martin-Reynolds, is from Airdrie and says there is also a real appetite to see more British and Scottish products, companies and businesspeople in the South American country.

He added that governments in both countries are working hard to break down any barriers to trade – including through the introduction of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement signed in May.

He also highlighted the significance of Scotland in the run up to COP26, which is reflected in one of the key industries for the mission – renewables.

Martin-Reynolds said: “In environment we see a massive potential on the business side between the UK and Colombia, and I think that Scotland absolutely is a huge part of that as we look at environmental technology, science, and renewable energies.”