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East of England firms urged to cash in on growing export trade with China

PUBLISHED: 15:04 13 March 2018

East of England firms have seen export trade with China soar over the last few years. Picture: ANDREA POWELL

East of England firms have seen export trade with China soar over the last few years. Picture: ANDREA POWELL

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Strong interpersonal relationships will be key to building on the East of England’s growing export trade with China, a government expert says.

East of England firms have seen export trade with China soar over the last few years. Picture: ANDREA POWELLEast of England firms have seen export trade with China soar over the last few years. Picture: ANDREA POWELL

The region exported £1.25bn worth of goods to China last year, as its total export trade soared to £28.9bn, according to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures.

Alan Pain, East of England regional director at the Department for International Trade (DIT), is urging firms across East Anglia to take full advantage of the growing demand for British goods in China.

Over the last 30 years, China has grown at an unprecedented rate to become the world’s second largest economy after the US, and demand for British goods has boomed in recent years.

The growing market, which encompasses a wide range of goods from jam and gin to cars and clothing, led to exports to China soaring by 50% in 2016.

Many businesses across the East of England and East Anglia have recognised the success of trading with Asia. According to HMRC, the value of goods alone exported from the East of England globally in 2017 totalled £28.9bn. Of this, £1.25bn worth of goods were exported to China.

But potential East of England exporters should be aware of various issues, beyond language and time, said Mr Pain.

“East Anglian producers must be aware of the importance of strong interpersonal relationships in Chinese business culture: a concept referred to in China as guanxi,” he said.

“Chinese companies will expect their British partners to be informed and prepared for every interaction, and to be consistent in delivering on their commitments.”

Firms should also avoid viewing the Chinese market as a single, homogenous entity and should carry out careful research to develop an exporting plan, which considers each region’s unique business environment and local demand, he said, as well as ensuring they protect their intellectual property and carry out due diligence.

The DIT has 36 dedicated international trade advisers available for consultation throughout the region, along with a network of support staff based in consulates and embassies across China.

Regional firms looking for support should contact 01707 398 398 or email eastinfo@mobile.trade.gov.uk.

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