Harlow to forge closer links to China
Business / Wed 23rd May 2018 at 02:40pm
LONDON Stansted Airport representatives, business leaders and local politicians have met to begin talks on creating a new partnership between the region and China to help secure a direct Chinese air link and foster new trade and investment opportunities in the East of England.
The East of England-China Forum will be membership-based and open to all companies and organisations wanting to strengthen ties between the region and China. Those wanting to join the Forum’s networking database and to receive news and event details are being encouraged to send their name and company information to [email protected]
Last year, China accounted for 30 per cent of all global economic growth and the country’s sustained expansion has created a surge in UK bound tourism and investment as well as increased demand for British education, research capabilities, goods and services. In 2016, the combined value of imports and exports between the East of England and China was valued at £4.3 billion.
At the inaugural meeting of the Forum, representatives from East of England and London businesses, business groups, County Councils, East of England Local Government Association, tourism agencies and universities agreed to build on their relationships in China but also provide a focus for organisations looking to increase their connectivity with China, and to encourage more businesses to explore opportunities in China. The Forum will also leverage local and national assets in order to develop these areas.
Ken O’Toole, Chief Executive, London Stansted Airport said: “As China becomes an increasingly important force in twenty-first century global trade, it is of paramount importance that the East of England, plus north and east London, has in place a clear strategy that allows it to nurture long-term economic ties with the country.
“In the next few years China is expected to overtake the USA to become the biggest aviation market in the world and together with a relaxation of visa and flight restrictions for Chinese visitors, now is the time for the region to come together to secure new direct links between our region and China.
“We know there is significant demand for Chinese destinations and are confident we can secure new links over the next years but it is crucial we build a strong coalition of businesses, universities, tourism agencies and local Government to demonstrate the size of the opportunity to airlines.”
Cllr Kevin Bentley, East of England Local Government Association and Deputy Leader of Essex County Council said: “A new direct air link to China from Stansted will significantly boost the Essex and regional economies and we are delighted to be contributing the resources of Essex County Council’s specialist China business advisory team at Essex International to help in the creation of the East of England-China Business Forum.”
Scott Goodfellow, Director of Tiptree-based Wilkin and Sons said: “Wilkin and Sons flies the flag for Britain around the world, with a significant and growing market in China attracted by our unique and quintessentially British products. Securing a direct link to China from Stansted, our local airport, would support our export ambitions, encourage local tourism, and save valuable time commuting around the M25.”
Claire Ruskin, Chief Executive of the Cambridge Network said: “Nearly 5% of the population in Cambridge is Chinese and we have considerable activity between businesses and institutions in this region and across China already. Direct links from Stansted will encourage even more productive relationships.”
A similar coalition has already proved successful in Manchester, where a partnership between Manchester Airport, local Government, tourism agencies, universities and the business community helped to secure direct links to both Hong Kong and Beijing in 2014 and 2016 respectively. The Beijing route alone helped exports from the north of England to China increase by 260 per cent to £200 million per month while Chinese visitors to the north increased by more than 50 per cent.
London Stansted Airport is the third largest in London – and fourth largest in the UK – serving over 26 million passengers a year. With a strong position for short-haul travel across Europe, with over 190 destinations across 38 countries, Stansted serves more scheduled connections to Europe than any other airport in the world (apart from Munich) with capacity to serve up to 43 million passengers a year.