INCREASED trade and business links with China may hold the key to a prosperous economic future for the east.
Suffolk County Council has signed an agreement with Norfolk and Essex county councils aimed at promoting links between industry, businesses and universities in the region and other high-growth economies, particularly China.
The two-year project will focus upon the region’s strengths in the energy sector, aiming to attract investment that will create growth and jobs for the three counties.
Cllr Judy Terry, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for the greenest county, economy and skills said: “This is an excellent step forward for all three counties.
“China’s rapidly expanding economy offers many new business opportunities for Suffolk companies looking to tap into international markets.
“We recognise that China has become the engine of economic growth in the global community and feel very strongly that sought-after Suffolk products such as clean energy, our creative industries and food and drink, have strong international appeal.”
Representatives from the three counties will travel to China in March 2012 to visit industry associations, research institutions and universities in the Jiangsu province.
During the visit, representatives will visit Wuxi, one of China’s leading centres for renewable energies, which is home to several important wind energy manufacturers.
They will also promote the region at China International Import Expo, in Kunshan, which will be the first national expo aimed at promoting the import of foreign goods.
Cllr Anne Stewart, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “It is clear that the opportunities to attract inward investment from China are growing and the huge population represents a massive market for our own goods and services.
“Opportunities for joint ventures and partnerships in China are also growing with some Norfolk companies already having successful trading arrangements, so joint working with our neighbouring counties is a good place to start.”
Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex county councils will develop joint projects to help businesses increase their exports to China, as well as working with universities and vocational colleges to form profitable links with counterparts.
The three councils will also promote the education of the region’s school children in Chinese culture and language as well as pursuing schemes to attract more Chinese tourists to the area.