New forum to forge stronger business links with China

East of England China Forum launch event
The evening�s speakers: (L-R) Zhang bin, Counsellor Comme

East of England China Forum launch event The evening�s speakers: (L-R) Zhang bin, Counsellor Commercial, Embassy of the People�s Republic of China in the UK & Northern Ireland; Duan Xiong, Deputy Director General of Jiangsu Provincial Department of Science and Technology; Zhou Changqing, Deputy Director General of Jiangsu Provincial Department of Commerce; Ken O�Toole, Chief Executive, Stansted Airport - Credit: Archant

A new group to encourage trade and investment between China and the east of England has been launched.

Business and political leaders from the region and London gathered on Wednesday to launch the East of England China Forum which aims to stimulate inward investment, tourism spend, student numbers and export opportunities.

Hosted by Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner in the House of Commons’ members dining room, 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 more than 30 years,

The initiative is facilitated by Stansted Airport, which is targeting additional long-haul routes, including China.

The Forum brings together business groups, county councils and local government, tourism agencies and universities to work together on building relationships and to support the drive to secure a direct Chinese air link.

It will also provide a focus for organisations looking to increase connectivity with China and encourage more businesses to explore opportunities there.

Stansted Airport CEO Ken O’Toole said: “Our expectation is that today’s launch will eventually culminate in the securing of a direct link between Stansted and China.

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“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.

“The east of England is increasingly playing a leading role in heralding a golden era of economic co-operation between the UK and China.”

In 2016, the combined value of imports and exports between the east of England and China was valued at £4.3 billion.

Kevin Bentley deputy leader of Essex County Council said: “This forum will transform the east of England’s business, investment and research and development and development performance in China.

“Essex County Council’s 30-year partnership with Jiangsu will be opened up to benefit the whole of the east of England, while the strengths of the region’s businesses, universities and local economic development authorities will enable us to put the whole region ‘on the map’ across China.”