Scottish Secretary David Mundell will today meet Mozambique’s minister of industry and commerce as he embarks on a drive to push forward a trading partnership with Aberdeen.
The Conservative Cabinet minister is visiting the southern African nation – accompanied by the Press and Journal – as part of efforts to boost the beleaguered North Sea industry.
Mozambique has huge reserves of offshore natural gas and is expected to become one of the world’s largest producers within a decade.
Aberdeen City Council has been working to build a relationship with the coastal city of Pemba, in the north-east of the country.
The two places hope to sign a formal memorandum of understanding later this year, underpinned by an action plan.
Funded by £120,000 from the Foreign Office, it will support Pemba to develop into a gas hub based on the Aberdeen model.
In turn, there will be opportunities for British companies, particularly those working in the Scottish oil and gas sector, to win new contracts as the market grows.
It is estimated the partnership could ultimately be worth tens of millions of pounds to the Scottish economy.
As well as the talks with the Mozambican minister, Ernesto Tonela, Mr Mundell will spend time with Gordon McIntosh, who has led on the partnership for the council.
The Scottish secretary said: “Following on from the announcement of the City Deal for Aberdeen and the region, I am delighted to be here as part of another phase in our drive to help the north-east of Scotland weather these difficult times in the oil and gas industry.
“This initiative will not just help protect existing jobs and businesses, it is a chance to develop new opportunities and markets and create new sources of employment for people in the north-east and Scotland as a whole.”
Mr McIntosh said that the link between Aberdeen and Pemba would provide opportunities for a wide variety of companies.
He added: “Whether it is training, support services, subsea operations or infrastructure, there are roles to be played by Scottish businesses.
“This is a win-win, because Mozambique can benefit greatly too, with an injection of expertise which can help it in taking the next step towards becoming a major gas producer.”
The Scottish secretary will also be promoting the Scotch whisky industry and calling for greater protection against cheap imitations during his visit.
Some £1.6million of the spirit was exported to Mozambique in 2014 and GDP growth is forecast to exceed 8% this year.
A European Partnership Agreement between the EU and Southern Africa Development Community was concluded last July and is due to come into force.
It promises to remove the current 20% tariff on alcoholic beverages within 10 years in Mozambique, boosting trade between the two markets.