The University of Huddersfield has showcased its capabilities in China.
Representatives of the university’s 3M Buckley Innovation Centre joined a delegation made up of some of the UK’s leading advanced manufacturing and innovation companies to China to boost trade and investment ties.
Trade and export promotions minister Baroness Rona Fairhead and Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry joined 100 leading business figures from across the Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine and the East of England representing Britain at the Chinese International Industrial Fair (CIIF) – the flagship event for advanced manufacturing – where the UK was named Country of Honour.
The UK and China enjoy strong trade links – with bilateral trade increasing by 8.9% last year to more than £59bn and goods exports to China rocketing by 32%.
Ministers believe there is huge potential build on this progress and expand trade ties, especially for smaller businesses in the East of England, Midlands and the North. The trade mission to Shanghai demonstrated what such firms have to offer to their Chinese counterparts.
The 3M BIC delivered a seminar focusing on how its cutting-edge research was providing businesses with the tools they need to thrive in a tough economy. James Devitt, 3M BIC business development manager, said: “The opportunity to stimulate international collaboration with Chinese universities and business innovation organisations will help to drive forward ‘industry 4.0’, digital manufacturing.”
During the trip, Baroness Fairhead met prominent UK businesses based in China to explore how the DIT could continue to expand support for new and existing exporters to the Chinese market.
China’s services imports have more than tripled since 2010, making China the second largest importer of services worldwide.
China’s middle class is expected to number 600m by 2020 – greater than the current entire population of the European Union.
Baroness Fairhead, said: “UK exports to China are growing strongly, but it’s clear that there is still vast untapped demand for British goods and services in the Chinese market.
“The opportunities for growth are there and we will continue to use trade missions not only to build the UK culture of exporting, but also to help businesses of all sizes forge ties and cultivate relationships with potential buyers and investors.”
Mr Berry said: “This trade mission represents an exciting opportunity for the UK and China to build on an already flourishing commercial relationship.”