PLACES have been snapped up on the first in-person trade mission from Scotland to the USA since the pandemic began as businesses look to new markets.

More than 20 Scottish SMEs have signed up to join the Scottish Chambers of Commerce International Trade Partnership (ITP) missions to New York and Miami. Organisers Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce (FVCC) and Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce (ICC) have described the uptake as “unprecedented interest”.

High-profile firms from sectors such as tech, sport and leisure, food and drink and the creative industries are joining the trade missions – including drinks firms Glaswegin, Ardgowan Distillery, and The Drinks Bakery – with leaders hailing the opportunity to forge new transatlantic links with potential partners in the USA.

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Other delegates making the trip include Scottish Edge-winning tech firm Lupovis, Harris Tweed, golf artisan accessory maker Mairead Hume, creative marketing and PR agency Story Shop, and award-winning global strategic brand agency MadeBrave.

The missions will include a series of networking events and meetings, as well as involvement in the world-famous Tartan Day Parade in New York in April, which returns for the first time since 2019.

Delegates on the Miami mission will also take in some tennis at the ATP Masters 1000 Miami Open, enjoying a tour of the Hard Rock Stadium before the action.

Lynn Blaikie, president of Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce, which is leading the New York mission, said: “The level of interest in the New York mission shows how seriously forward-thinking Scottish SMEs are taking the need to operate in new markets.

“The pandemic has changed the way we do business forever, and companies who adapt fastest – regardless of size or sector – will be the ones who emerge strongest.

“Technology has made working with international partners possible for all businesses, but the importance of forging those relationships in the right way remains of paramount importance. That’s why we’ve seen so many people keen to join the mission, and start themselves off on the right foot in one of the most exciting markets in the world for Scottish business.”

Lisa Matthews, distiller at Ardgowan Distillery, which recently secured £12 million to build a new distillery in the Ardgowan Estate, Inverkip said: “Around 93% of Scotch whisky is exported, and America is a really important market for whisky generally, and for us especially as we seek distributors for our blended malt Scotch whisky, Clydebuilt Shipwright.

“When you think of Scotland, you think of whisky, so I think there will be a massive demand. The fact that we’re going over there in person means that there’s a bit more of a personal touch. We are so excited about the business opportunities in Florida and New York, as well as the chance to take part in the Tartan Week parade while putting faces to names. It’s a massive opportunity.”