TAIWAN’S top diplomat in Scotland has called for the Scottish Government to re-establish an international office to promote trade between the two countries.

Chi-Hua Ding – the director general of the Taipei Representative Office in Edinburgh – (below) highlighted the already strong commercial links between Scotland and Taiwan, including being the fourth biggest market for Scottish whisky in the world.

The island nation imported £341m of Scotch whisky in 2023, a full £106m ahead of fifth- placed China and only below the United States, France and Singapore.

The National:

It is for this reason – as well as a marked interest in Taiwan for Scotland’s offshore wind, salmon and even Mackie’s ice cream – that Ding would like to see a greater Scottish presence in Taiwan and the re-establishment of a Scottish Development International (SDI) office.

The Scottish Development International (SDI) office in Taiwan was closed several years ago. Currently, there is only the British Office in the nation’s capital Taipei.

READ MORE: Scottish Government report 'showcases' embassies UK threatens to shut

He called on the Scottish Government to send an envoy to “explore possibilities” with a view towards re-establishing a permanent presence.

It comes after David Cameron threatened to shut Scottish Government offices abroad that are located in UK Government embassies and posts, stating that officials would “consider their presence” after Humza Yousaf met Turkey’s president at COP28 – which the First Minister branded as “petty”.

Cameron was referring to the seven Scottish Government international offices based in British Embassies or High Commissions, located in Ottawa in Canada, Washington DC in the USA, Beijing in China, Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, Paris in France, Berlin in Germany, and Copenhagen in Denmark.

But there are also currently more than 30 SDI offices across the world promoting Scottish business in locations across the United States, Europe, South Africa, Asia and Australia.

Just hours after the row erupted, the Scottish Government published its annual report “showcasing the achievements” of the international network of offices.

This included praising the SDI offices. For example, the report said that the SDI network has supported over 360 companies looking to grow exports in the United States alone, and forecasts £1.7 billion in trade figures for 2022-23.

“It’s our deep wish that the SDI could send an envoy to Taiwan to explore possibilities,” Ding told The National from his office in Edinburgh’s West End.

“It's not my intention to involve myself in the government's internal policy making, but I proposed this idea because I’d like to see more commercial connections between Scotland and Taiwan.”

And while GlobalScot, Scotland's international business network, offers guidance to Scottish companies looking to enter and collaborate in international markets, including Taiwan, Ding believes Scotland would benefit in having someone advocating for Scottish products in Taiwan in person.

"The UK office in Taiwan, they celebrate Burns Night and St Andrews Day. But, I'm sure Scotland is more than that," he said. 

The official also highlighted how Scotland could greater benefit from Taiwanese innovation.

According to the Scottish Development International, Taiwan and Scotland have trade and investment relations in a variety of industries from electronics and health technology to food and drink, life sciences and textiles.

“We hope the Scottish Government will send an envoy or representative to Taiwan to engage with the Taiwanese technical and financial sector,” he said.

“I'm trying to explore any possibility that we could have.”