In 2012, Ainsley Mann was nominated by Scottish Development International (SDI) as a “Global Scot” and shortly thereafter formally appointed by the First Minister of Scotland. As a Global Scot he has a responsibility to use influence, connections and experience to help foster commercial links with Scotland. In 2017 he was appointed as Scotland’s first ever Trade Envoy to Indonesia. He is also Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia.
Ainsley was interviewed by Alistair Speirs, himself a Scot and former Chieftain of the Java St. Andrews Society and Chairman of Jakarta Highland Gathering.
First of all congratulations on being appointed one of only four worldwide Scottish Trade Envoys. But what exactly does that entail? And why now?
It goes back to the whole concept of the “Global Scot” network which I have been part of for a while, initiated by the then Scottish First Minister Jack MacConnell. With “Brexit” looming I believe there is more focus than ever to develop international trade and investment. For some markets the Global Scot has been upgraded to a Trade Envoy with a view to hopefully encouraging more focus.Currently there are four trade envoys; one each in UAE, Poland, Indonesia and plus a roving envoy to fill other gaps.
Basically it requires me to be a gateway to support where necessary Scottish companies looking at either investing or trading with Indonesia as well as help promote Indonesia to Scotland and ultimately try and expose Indonesian companies to potential investment opportunities in Scotland. Clearly I have to work closely with established support mechanisms at the British Embassy, KADIN and Britcham etc.
Who is the appointing body? Westminster or Holyrood (the Scottish Parliament)?
The appointment is from the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood and is under the supervision of Keith Brown, the Cabinet Secretary for The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work. I understand all aspects were cleared with the official UK-RI diplomatic channels. As the current Chairman of Britcham I am also pulling together contacts with the Scottish Chamber of Commerce who represent the 26 individual chambers all over Scotland, and of course I work with the Britcham team here who help SME’s to arrange visits and contacts as well. Essentially everybody including the Dept. of International Trade and the Scottish Development Office in Singapore, all have to work together to make this successful.
What goals have been set, and are they achievable? In which sectors?
Since this is an unpaid position, there can’t be unrealistic expectations, but some sectors for example Food and Drink, are not represented here so there are serious opportunities – think whisky for instance. Other sectors where we have a lot of expertise include Water, Waste Treatment and Aquaculture. In the tourism sector we have equally good areas to develop: golf, luxury travel, fishing and the amazing Edinburgh Festival.
Do you have sufficient funding and resources?
If I can use a simple comparison: New Zealand and Denmark are countries with a similar size of population and they both have full embassies here, so the envoy role will always be beyond my resources so I need to work closely with Britcham and the British Embassy – and hopefully get the local Scottish community to help.
Who do you report to and what are they current expectation?
Operationally I report to the Scottish Development office in Singapore. As I said before expectations are contained but optimistic.
Has this appointment come from your professional qualifications and network or are you affiliated to the Scottish National Party (who hold most of the seats in the Scottish Assembly)?
This is a 100% non-political role based on my work as a “Global Scot”. Roles like this tend to be localized and in the future perhaps should be given to a Senior Indonesian. It certainly doesn’t need to be a Scot or a political party member!
What are you currently doing to wave the Scottish flag in Indonesia? Where can we expect to see activity or actual results?
We have an excellent project going between Stirling University and the Ministry of Fisheries upgrading skills in aquaculture. We want to focus on areas that Indonesia needs help in and where we have specific expertise. Our universities are magnificent and can all find significant areas where they can assist Indonesia, aquaculture is only one small sector.
Scotland is the largest archipelago in Europe, reflecting Indonesia’s archipelagic challenges, for example fuel poverty or the lack of a circular economy. Our experience in these areas can greatly help Indonesia where we have already learned the lessons.
Most recently I have introduced a group of Indonesian investors to the Whisky Live! franchise owners and there is now every chance that hugely successful event will come to Jakarta in Q4 of this year. That would be an excellent opportunity to showcase the best of Scottish F&B and also bring more awareness to the tourism opportunities.
Do you consider this to be a great honour to serve your country, or is it more of a professional and personal challenge?
It’s a personal challenge, and of course an honour, it is not even a part time job, it’s a role outside working hours, which is a huge challenge. I need to use all the networks noted above to succeed, but the likes of “Whisky Live” event can certainly act as a great catalyst. My aim is to have a complete “Scotland Week” here by 2019 – but that would need a lot of support from the likes of yourself Alistair!
Good luck and thanks from all at NOW! Jakarta.
Ainsley Mann has been with Swire Pacific since 1998 where he started in the Group’s Coca-Cola Bottling business before moving to the real estate sector in 2010. After 20 years in China he moved back to Indonesia in 2013 where he currently heads up Swire Properties and is currently Vice President Director PT Jantra Swarna Dipta, the Swire Properties’s joint venture operation in Jakarta with PT Jan Darmadi Investindo.