Guest column: Historic Chinese trade deal has huge potential benefits

Coun Kay Cutts meets Madam Wu Guiying who led the Zhejiang business delegation to Nottingham. Picture: Andrew Hallsworth
Coun Kay Cutts meets Madam Wu Guiying who led the Zhejiang business delegation to Nottingham. Picture: Andrew Hallsworth

Since the June 2016 EU Referendum result, the UK Government and its partners have been looking to capitalise on post-Brexit opportunities across the globe.

In Nottinghamshire, we are working hard to ensure that our businesses have the chance to be at the front of the queue to take advantage of these opportunities.

As soon as the Referendum result was known we started to identify ways in which we could increase international trade opportunities, far in advance of Article 50 being triggered.

We immediately recognised the importance of new markets and in particular the unprecedented opportunities afforded by the growth of the Chinese economy and its global influence.

Earlier this week, we hosted a delegation of 60 companies from the Zhejiang Province of China, who were in Nottinghamshire to talk business with firms from across the county.

This was the largest ever Chinese trade delegation to visit Nottinghamshire.

Our relationship with Zhejiang was formalised in April this year.

I was privileged to help welcome representatives from Zhejiang for the signing of a Friendship Agreement between our two areas, which committed us to work together for mutual benefit on a variety of issues including the economy, trade and investment, education, science, health and technology, tourism and culture.

This week’s trade visit was the first major event to emerge from that agreement, with many more exciting opportunities to come.

Zhejiang is rated as one of China’s leading areas for innovation and technology, as well as being a world leading hub for logistics and has one of the world’s largest ports. It has a population of 56 million – similar to the entire population of England and its GDP is equivalent to that of Turkey.

And we have much to offer them too.

Our central location, combined with superb road, rail and air infrastructure means large swathes of Europe can be reached within two hours. We have excellent airports at either end of our county, including East Midlands Airport which is the busiest air freight depot in the UK, outside Heathrow.

And our emerging strengths include a strong, diverse manufacturing sector - which is growing at a faster than the national average – and highly productive construction and health care sectors in particular.

All this, plus a rich history and cultural heritage, stunning countryside, good schools and the opportunity for exceptional quality of life.

Although our relationship with Zhejiang is still at an early stage, the potential benefits it can have for Nottinghamshire’s economy, growth and jobs are huge.

Coun Kay Cutts is leader of Nottinghamshire County Council