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Trade mission from UK's Midlands region says China visit a success

By Bo Leung in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2018-12-04 23:51

Members of a delegation from Central England have described a trade mission to China as a success and say it will help pave the way for growth and investment.

The Midlands Engine, a coalition of councils, combined authorities, local enterprise partnerships, universities, and businesses from the region, visited Southwest China's Guizhou province, East China's Zhejiang province, and the city of Shanghai during its weeklong trade mission in November.

The delegates achieved a number of objectives, including conducting negotiations for a five-year plan with the governor of Zhejiang province that will support trade and investment, discussing direct aviation links between China and the United Kingdom's Midlands region, and examining how the Midlands' soccer clubs could develop stronger connections with clubs in China.

Midlands Engine identified China as a key market in which it could develop trade links in support of the Midlands' internalization agenda.

Midlands Engine Chairman John Peace led the delegation, which included business leaders, scientists, and university representatives.

"This was a highly successful trade mission which reinforced our relationships at governmental and commercial levels," he said. "We've also opened a lot of doors that will, no doubt, pay dividends for some significant agreements and deals in the region over the coming years."

The Midlands delegation met with the governors of Guizhou and Zhejiang province as well as education department officials, airport and airline representatives, senior officers from Alibaba, Geely, and from the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope.

"We have made significant progress with all of our objectives and remain confident that we can start to see some action in many of these areas as a direct result of the mission," Peace said. "Establishing strong relationships is critical ahead of any trade deals and the Midlands Engine has shown how it can add value, not only at the high level, in terms of promoting the region and establishing strategic relations, but also at the more granular business-to-business level."

The delegation also explored ways that the Midlands region might capitalize on the rapid developments of big data, AI and fintech, as well as strengthen cultural links and initiatives, particularly in schools, music, sport, and the creative industries.

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