Business

Northern Ireland businesses should explore ‘golden age' in UK-Chinese trade, expert claims

Opportunities of doing business in China have been explored at a seminar in Belfast

NORTHERN Ireland businesses should explore the possibilities of the so-called ‘golden age' in UK-Chinese trade, a leading expert on government and enterprise in the country has said.

Mark Pinner, China director at global public affairs firm Interel, was addressing an event on doing business in China at Belfast City Hall organised by communications agency Chambré Public Affairs in association with the City Council.

He said: “The common perception of China as a monolithic and closed place is wide of the mark. The country is on its way towards becoming a higher-end market economy. It is building a modern regulatory system, has an increased role for consumer spending and needs better business services.

“UK relations with China have also come on a lot recently, and the new economic priorities of the Chinese government makes the UK something of a natural partner. In Northern Ireland we can already see the benefits, with local companies like Dale Farm making great inroads.”

He added: “All in all, with the Brexit vote creating an uncertain European environment for local companies, Northern Ireland businesses should explore the possibilities of the so-called ‘golden age' in UK-Chinese trade.”

Belfast lord mayor of Belfast Brian Kingston told delegates: “As the city regional driver, Belfast City Council is fully committed to a long-working relationship with China.

"We have had a Sister City Agreement with Hefei, in Anhui Province, for many years, and in May my predecessor Arder Carson signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a similar agreement with Shenyang in northern China.

“It is important that, as civic leaders, we continue to strengthen our international profile and develop concrete collaborative projects, particularly in areas where we can offer world-class excellence and partnership, such as cyber security, urban development, active ageing, smart city working, the financial technology and advanced manufacturing industries, the creative industries and of course, tourism and education.”

Peter Curran, head of trade in Asia Pacific at Invest NI, said: "Northern Ireland manufacturing exports are currently worth £89.4m, with machinery and transport equipment accounting for about a third of this. Latterly we have seen opportunities opening up in healthcare, aerospace, food and drink and this is where we see potential for real growth.

“There are certainly challenges with exporting to China. But with our in-market support, regular trade missions, and attendance at key events such as Food Hotel China, Invest NI is able to offer businesses the necessary guidance and support to break into and grow in this market.”

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