Brexit has boosted business for a Huddersfield-based company working to strengthen UK trade links with China.

Joanna Lavan, managing director of ConnectChina, who joined Prime Minister Theresa May on last week’s whirlwind visit to China, said both Britain and China were keen to strengthen existing trade and investment links.

And she said: “Brexit has increased our business. The currency exchange rate makes British-based products competitive to export to China and it is more competitive for Chinese investors coming to the UK. China has a good relationship with Britain in any case and the Chinese want to do business with us. At the moment I don’t think Brexit has affected us.”

Regardless of the terms on which the UK eventually leaves the EU, Joanna said: “The message is that British companies have got to look to China because there are so many opportunities out there – but they do need to get out there.”

She said: “The biggest opportunities are in sectors such as technology, life sciences. branded consumer goods, healthcare and automotive.”

Joanna Lavan (pictured behind and to the left of Prime Minister Theresa May's husband Philip) with other delegates on the trip to China

The high-powered trade mission led by Mrs May included delegates from more than 40 UK firms in sectors including financial services, health and life sciences, automotive, education, agrichemicals and food and drink.

There was a hectic rounds of business forums, networking sessions and receptions at the new British consulate in Wuhan and at venues in Beijing and Shanghai.

ConnectChina, based at the Media Centre, has provided business support services to help public and private sectors develop trade and investment opportunities with China for many years.

Joanna said being part of the PM’s party had opened more doors than on previous trips.

“It has given us access to chief executive officers of Chinese companies we would not have met otherwise,” she said. “It has also led to collaborations with some of the other delegates on the trip. We have had quite a few enquiries already.”

Joanna said she expected to return to China before the end of this month for a series of follow-up meetings.

ConnectChina’s invitation to take part – as one of only two Yorkshire organisations on the plane – was a direct result of a recent contract win which will see the company work with UK firms on co-operation and investment opportunities in Yunnan Province, South West China.

According to the Home Office, trade between the UK and China is already at record levels and UK exports to China have grown by over 60% since 2010.