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29 July, 2014 - 04:48 By Tony Quested

East of England-China trade at record levels


Trade between the East of England and China is running at all-time record levels, new figures from UKTI confirm.

In the 12 months to March 31, East of England exports to China were £741.9 million – a 9.1 per cent increase on the previous 12 months. 

To Hong Kong total trade from the region was £635.7m – up 26. per cent – and to Taiwan £103.8m, an increase of 15 per cent.

While Taiwan trade dipped in the first quarter of 2014, the upward trend to China and Hong Kong was reinforced from January to March – the last full quarter for which official government figures are available.

Q1 exports from the East of England to China were worth £212m, an increase of 29.9 per cent on the corresponding quarter of 2013.  Exports from the region to Hong Kong in the quarter were 32.4 per cent higher at £141.9m.

It’s worth noting that China (9th) and Hong Kong (11th) were in the top 15 export markets for the East of England in 2013 – and that China was also the only country outside of the EU and the United States that made the region’s top 10 target markets.

As Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent multi-billion trade exchanges with China have re-emphasised, business is not all one way traffic. Foreign direct investment from China into the UK increased from £780m to £1.17 billion in the last full year for which statistics are available. That total is set to increase significantly in the remainder of 2014 and into 2015 as Chinese corporations eye acquisition opportunities the length and breadth of the UK.

UKTI’s international trade director for the East of England, Liz Basing, said there was a fantastic opportunity for East of England businesses to build on the platform for growth that had been set down in recent years. She said: “China’s booming economy has made it a top target market for exporters in the last few years and this very much remains the case today.

“Local success stories include Cambridge biotech firm Ziath which won initial orders of £200,000 in China with UKTI’s help and is looking forward to expanding its sales to this exciting market. The latest statistics show the East of England continues to develop great business with this country, with exports at £742m, over nine per cent higher than last year.

“In the past year alone, high profile trade missions to China – including those led by Prime Minister David Cameron and Business Secretary Vince Cable – have helped secure billions of pounds worth of deals for UK companies, particularly in the energy and construction sectors.

“However China is a large and complex market with constantly changing and developing needs, which bring some unique challenges. So no matter the size of your business, successful exporting to China comes from a long-term strategy rather than a one-minute wonder.

“If you are interested in entering the Chinese market or developing existing export business, UKTI working with the China Britain Business Council has a range of concrete business opportunities available now to UK companies. 

“And whether you fancy selling food and drink, clinical research or fire and rescue vehicles we can help you plan your export strategy thanks to our team of experts here in the East and on the ground in China. Contact us today on 0845 6419955.”• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: UKTI’s international trade director for the East of England, Liz Basing

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