Trade and investment opportunities following China visit
Leader Kay Cutts recalls her recent visit to China and how she hopes to build on the trade and investment opportunities that were discussed.
As Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, my brief is varied but does not often include international travel – most of my work is much closer to home. A notable exception to that is a recent official trip to China. For some of the visit I was a guest of the University of Nottingham and I visited their impressive campus at Ningbo. For the remainder of the visit I was in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province.
In April 2016, Nottinghamshire signed a Friendship Agreement with the Province of Zhejiang. This agreement promotes trade and investment and collaboration in areas of culture, tourism, sport and education. My recent trip was to cement the Friendship Agreement and to act as a broker for some of our key partners who are also keen to explore options in China.
I was accompanied on my visit to Zhejiang by representatives of D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham Forest Football Club. During the visit, we worked with the Zhejiang Provincial Government to develop the strands of our Friendship Agreement into deliverable actions. All of this was helped by a high-level meeting with the Governor of Zhejiang, who welcomed us and encouraged further development of our friendship.
I am delighted that we are already seeing the fruits of our agreement with Zhejiang. Whilst I was in China, I met with the Chairman of the Zhejiang Shelf Company, which is opening a base in Mansfield, with the creation of 20 jobs.
Having now seen for myself the potential in China, I am convinced that there are many opportunities. To put this in context, the population of Zhejiang is 56million and it has an economy the size of Austria. In particular, this offers potential to link up our businesses and facilitate trade and investment.
Our work with China is very much in line with the Council’s new 4-year plan, “Your Nottinghamshire, Your Future”, which aims to make our County a great place to start and grow a business. Our Friendship Agreement also forms an important part of the Midlands Engine China Strategy, an initiative with strong Government backing and led by Sir John Peace who is a Nottinghamshire resident and good friend of the County Council.
Above all, my visit gave me a glimpse of the future and a sense of perspective of what rewards future investment in our own economy and infrastructure will bring us over the next 20 years as we edge ever closer to HS2, driverless cars, Artificial Intelligence and all manner of innovations which will change the way we live, consume products and receive services. These innovations are growing at pace in China and it will be fascinating to see how we embrace this new technological revolution closer to home.
Whatever the future holds, I understand that people’s homes and families are important to them, and these, along with our history and heritage, are the precious things we will preserve as we move forward.
Councillor Kay Cutts, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council