Midlands Engine grow trade links with China

Date posted: April 1, 2019
Sir John Peace and Governor Xu talking over a signed document with British and Chinese flags in front on a table

Strategic agreement signed between Midlands Engine and China’s Hunan Province

  • Vice Governor of Guizhou visits Midlands to discuss trade and investment collaboration
  • Business matching event identifies trade opportunities for the Midlands

Chairman of the Midlands Engine Sir John Peace and Governor of Hunan Xu Dazhe, signed a strategic partnership agreement on Friday (March 29), to further strengthen economic and trade cooperation.

Hunan is China’s seventh most populated province with over 68 million residents, on a par with the UK and France, and with a GDP that would place it as the 23rd largest globally if it were a country – offering up enormous potential for collaboration and partnership.

The agreement signed will support UK companies looking to access markets in Hunan, and open pathways for investment into the country in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, automotive, agri-tech, and life sciences, underpinning the UK government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

As part of the visit, Governor Xu met with Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, visited the British Museum to discuss cultural collaboration and watched and aerial performance of the Red Arrows in Scampton, signalling the strength and depth of the UK-China relationship and the UK’s world leading aerospace expertise.

In 2018 annual UK-Hunan bilateral trade increased to over £500m. UK exports to Hunan increased by 23% in September 2018, and in November three UK companies signed agreements to export to Hunan worth a total of £33.2m.

A business that has seen the benefits of the Hunan-Midlands relationship include a specialist horticultural fertiliser manufacturer based in Lincoln, Hortifeeds, which signed a deal with ISKY Chemicals Co Ltd during the visit. The two businesses were initially matched at an event led by Department for International Trade (DIT), working with the South China Outreach team prior to the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in 2018.

During the visit a similar business matching event run by DIT in Lincoln saw 40 business to business meetings take place which identified nine trade opportunities between the Hunan delegation and local Midlands businesses.

Following the visit from the Hunan delegation the Midlands Engine then hosted a visit to the region from the Vice Governor of Guizhou, Lu Yongzheng, on Saturday and Sunday (March 30 and 31) which brought together key stakeholders from both regions to discuss boosting trade links.
The Vice Governor was particularly impressed with the infrastructure of the Midlands and the opportunities presented by access to East Midlands Airport and the future planned development of HS2 across the region.

Chairman of the Midlands Engine, Sir John Peace said:

I am delighted to have signed this agreement which will further support the UK’s industrial strategy, open new pathways for investment into the Midlands and support Midlands businesses to access new markets in Hunan.

The Midlands Engine China strategy has identified a number of areas providing high growth opportunities and the Hunan Province is one of huge strategic importance. Strong relationships have already been built with Lincolnshire, with the signing of the deal between ISKY Chemicals and Hortifeeds being another clear demonstration of this. I am confident that we can now bring about further similar successes across the entire Midlands region.

Head of Exports and Investment, Midlands Engine, Simon Hall said:

There are growing opportunities in China for Midlands Engine businesses and it is excellent to see local businesses meeting face-to-face with prospective Chinese buyers to explore possible new trading relationships in growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing, gaming, ICT, life sciences and rail.

We have a team of DIT International Trade Advisers working across the Midlands who provide expert support and advice for businesses from all sectors about exporting and how it can lead to significant business growth.

Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Councillor Martin Hill, said:

Lincolnshire has hosted delegations from the Hunan province since 2015, leading to us become formal ‘sister regions’ at the end of last year. Our relationship gives Lincolnshire much greater access to one of the largest and most important export markets in the world with huge potential for economic growth.


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