International specialist business consultancy, ConnectChina, recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of Leeds and Hangzhou cities being twinned as part of a Leeds City Region senior trade and investment delegation to China, designed to build on long-standing relationships and capitalise on existing trade agreements.
ConnectChina organised the China in-market support for the Leeds City Region trade visit, with Managing Director, Joanna Lavan accompanying Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council. Representatives from across the region – Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Bradford Council, the University of Bradford, the University of Leeds, the University of Huddersfield and businesses including TPP and East Street Arts – also took part in the trip, visiting the Chinese cities of Hangzhou and Qingdao.
As part of the visit to Hangzhou, Councillor Judith Blake and Zhang Jianting, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of Hangzhou People’s Congress, signed a new memorandum of understanding between Leeds and Hangzhou reinforcing the commitments made three decades ago, stating the importance of the partnership and working together to promote trade and investment.
The trip included meetings with senior government and business leaders to explore the opportunities for Chinese investment into Leeds City Region, as well as the opportunities for Leeds City Region businesses to export to China and capitalise on the demand for British products and services. ConnectChina was responsible for the China in-market support element of the visit and organising seminars and business networking events. The delegates also joined a reception to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the partnership between Leeds and Hangzhou, who have been twin cities since 1988, one of the first UK-Chinese city partnerships.
China remains the second largest economy in the world and is the largest single-country market globally. The last 12 months have seen a steady flow of new businesses interested in exporting their goods, services, technology or brand to China, with UK-China trade growing more than eightfold between 1999 and 2017 and up 25 per cent in the last year alone.
ConnectChina’s Managing Director, Joanna Lavan, said: “I’m delighted to have joined the Leeds City Region delegation on such a positive trip to China, strengthening our regional cultural links and relationships with Chinese partners. There are great opportunities in the Chinese market and we want to encourage more investment and trade between our cities which will benefit our economies in the future.”
ConnectChina was established in 2004 and has offices in Huddersfield and Shanghai. It specialises in providing business support services to help both public and private sectors in the UK and overseas develop trade and investment opportunities with China. Earlier this year, Joanna joined the PM, Theresa May, and a multi-sector trade delegation of more than 40 businesses from across the UK on a visit to China.