London Stansted Airport representatives, business leaders and local politicians have met to begin talks on creating a new partnership between the region and China including trying to secure a direct Chinese air link.
The East of England-China Forum will be membership-based and open to all companies and organisations wanting to strengthen ties between the region and China. Those joining the airport were Essex County Council, Wilkins and Sons. the Cambridge Network and others.
Last year, China accounted for 30 per cent of all global economic growth and the country’s sustained expansion has created a surge in UK bound tourism and investment as well as increased demand for British education, research capabilities, goods and services. In 2016, the combined value of imports and exports between the East of England and China was valued at £4.3 billion.
At the inaugural meeting of the Forum, companies and organisations agreed to provide a focus for organisations looking to increase their connectivity with China, and to encourage more businesses to explore opportunities in China. The Forum will also leverage local and national assets in order to develop these areas.
London Stansted Airport chief executive, Ken O’Toole said: “As China becomes an increasingly important force in twenty-first century global trade, it is of paramount importance that the East of England, plus north and east London, has in place a clear strategy that allows it to nurture long-term economic ties with the country.
“In the next few years China is expected to overtake the USA to become the biggest aviation market in the world and together with a relaxation of visa and flight restrictions for Chinese visitors, now is the time for the region to come together to secure new direct links between our region and China.
“We know there is significant demand for Chinese destinations and are confident we can secure new links over the next years but it is crucial we build a strong coalition of businesses, universities, tourism agencies and local Government to demonstrate the size of the opportunity to airlines.”
(Photo left to right: Essex County Council deputy leader, Kevin Bentley; Harlow Enterprise Zone chairman, John Keddie; London Stansted Airport CEO, Ken O’Toole; and Manchester-China Forum executive director, Rhys Whalley)