East of England region verges on golden era of collaboration with China
East of England businesses have been urged to cash in on a golden era of UK-China trade opportunities.
Stansted Airport CEO Ken O’Toole predicted a boom period for business between the countries at the House of Commons launch of the East of England China Forum.
The initiative is designed to boost both two-way trade and cultural ties between this region and Chinese government and business enterprises.
O’Toole said direct flights from the airport for China were a growing probability and flagged up the unprecedented opportunities for export wins and inward investment.
He told a large contingent of Chinese and UK guests: “Our expectation is that this launch will eventually culminate in the securing of a direct link between Stansted and China.
“Certainly on the basis of the discussions we are already having with a range of Chinese carriers, I see no reason why Stansted cannot be the Chinese gateway to the East of England for investors and tourists looking to take advantage of all the exciting opportunities available to them.
“As many of you will have seen first-hand, the East of England is increasingly playing a leading role in heralding a golden era of economic co-operation between the UK and China.”
Last year, China accounted for 30 per cent of all global economic growth and the country’s sustained expansion has created a surge in UK bound tourism and investment as well as increased demand for British education, research capabilities, goods and services.
In 2016, the combined value of imports and exports between the East of England and China was valued at £4.3 billion.
Hosted by Daniel Zeichner MP, the 150-strong guest list included a delegation of political and business leaders from China’s Jiangsu province which has had strong links with Essex County Council for over 30 years.
Zeichner said: “I want to note the recent decision that will allow expansion at Stansted and to highlight the importance of Stansted within the regional economy.
“As a member of the Transport Select Committee I also note the opportunities for Stansted given the shortage of capacity in the South East while the third runway at Heathrow continues to be considered; and most important of all for this initiative, reflect on the huge growth of links with China in Cambridge.
“For both Cambridge and the wider region this is a very important opportunity to foster better links and hopefully direct communications with regions in China.”
Zhou Changqing, deputy director general of the Department of Commerce of Jiangsu Province added: “We are in a golden-era of economic cooperation between China and UK and we need to further strengthen the local exchanges.
“Jiangsu and Essex have a long-standing relationship, we would like to further enhance the cooperation with the East of England. I strongly believe, based on practical local exchanges, there will be a brighter future for comprehensive China-UK cooperation.”
• PHOTOGRAPH: Stansted Airport CEO Ken O’Toole