Business leaders have spoken of their disappointment that no Norfolk or Suffolk companies have travelled with the prime minister on his three-day visit to China.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

But trade mission cancelled in May

A planned trade mission to China for businesses working in the energy sector was cancelled in May because of a lack of interest from the region’s firms.

The mission, which was due to fly out to Jiangsu Province, was organised by Essex County Council and the East of England Energy Group with Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils.

It was also supported by the government’s UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) team in China, while Norfolk Chamber had also described it as a “fantastic opportunity” for Norfolk businesses to expand their lists of suppliers.

But the visit was scrapped after failing to attract the 10 firms from across the three counties it needed to justify the trip.

The trade mission idea was intended to build on links with the province which has already seen business and civic leaders from Jiangsu head to the region to look at potential inward investment opportunities.

Senior figures voiced surprise that they had not even been consulted about who might benefit from the opportunity, with Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex all overlooked during the much-heralded trip.

Downing Street rejected accusations of cronyism over the selection of business delegates after it emerged the 120-strong party of business representatives travelling with David Cameron to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu included his stepfather-in-law, a neighbour from his Oxfordshire constituency and a former No 10 aide.

A shortlist was drawn up by each regional director of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) – and included Norfolk and Suffolk businesses – but the final list drawn up by UKTI head office did not include any local businesses.

Dale Sanders, director of the John Innes Centre, in Norwich, had been meant to join the trip, but cancelled at the last minute when the itinerary of the trip changed.

It was hoped an agreement cementing links between the John Innes Centre and Chinese scientists to bring some of the brightest minds together to tackle the greatest challenges ahead in global agriculture, could be signed.

But no Norfolk or Suffolk business was offered the chance to go in his place.

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce boss Caroline Williams said it was disappointing that some of our key companies who could have benefited were not involved and the business group and the Chamber had not been asked to get involved in drawing up the shortlist.

“China is growing in importance for our exporters. We are already doing work to make sure our businesses know what opportunities are there through links with the British Chambers.”

But she added: “Although it is disappointing that we are not involved in this trip it doesn’t mean our businesses are not involved in China. We need to make sure we follow this up and take on the feedback.”

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon also said he was disappointed. “It is not for want of trying on my part. I was talking to Number 10 about this two weeks ago and trying to get someone from the pig industry on the visit.

“The list was already closed.”

But he added that he was concerned that there were manufacturers in Norfolk who had not even thought about exporting to China.

“For the right company, with the right products, China is an enormous opportunity. People do need to think about it.”

Businesses would have to pay the costs of the trip.

Terry Medcalf, financial controller at helicopter supplier Apple International, said the company had sold a refurbished helicopter to China in October and wanted to expand in the Chinese market. There are many more products that could be sold to this particular area if everyone had an equal opportunity to have some representation.”

While there were not any SMEs from the region on the trip, Chris Starkie, managing director of the New Anglia local enterprise partnership, pointed out that Associated British Foods and Virgin Group – who have joined the prime minister – had business interests in the region.

But he said: “It is always a bit of a mystery to us how companies are selected for these trips.

“We would like to see greater representation from Norfolk and Suffolk and we will continue to work with UKTI to ensure they are made aware of the businesses who could benefit from trips like this in the future.”

Richard Bridgman, chairman of engineering firm Warren Services, in Thetford, said: “Personally I feel there is enough work for us in the UK and the rest of the world, rather than trying to compete in China.

“We are fighting for survival at the moment, we haven’t got the resources. We are looking to export to other countries.”

A UKTI spokesman said: “UKTI has regional offices across the UK which worked together to ensure a regional spread of businesses were represented.

“Regional spread was considered alongside other factors such as company size, sector and relevance to the Chinese market.”

9 comments

  • Perhaps businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk are far more sensitive to the host of Chinese human rights and animal welfare abuses than Camoron? We shouldn't be trading with China until they get their house in order on both counts.

    Report this comment

    DWW25

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Long term British companies will regret moving production to China,once they have gained the technology they won't need us any more! You are dealing with a communist autocracy that is after economic world domination,and they are achieving it!

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • why would they want to go with a pm who like the last labour goverment is selling out british jobs and british futures in any way they can to fund a britain made bankrupt by the last labour goverment

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Nice to see the EDP is censoring again, because they do not "fit in" with their way of thinking.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • "Disappointment as no Norfolk or Suffolk firms join prime minister David Cameron on trade mission to China" It should read "Dissapointment as no Norfolk or Suffolk companies were invited on a taxpayers jolly to China". Anyway, what do they expect. It was a taxpayers jolly for the establishment, not for commoners like Norfolk & Suffolk Businesses.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Non story here. Chinese delegations have visited eastern region councils and businesses over the last couple of years.

    Report this comment

    DT

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Of course there are none from Norfolk or Suffolk as they are already there. Didn't many close their factories here and set up again in China? I can think of two large companies for a start.

    Report this comment

    Old Long Balls

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • So right Harry. I have a friend in Beijing who knows that his highly technical job is based there so the Chinese can monitor everything he does, analyse it and one day he and his firms will be told they are no longer needed and the Chinese will set up their own highly specialised company. He says that there is a bloke who sits beside him watching everything he does. It is that blatant. China has the cheap labour, the brains to carry out orders and run companies but what they lack is the ability to invent and innovate. And so long as they can pinch that one aspect of our society that they lack they will take over. Job shortages in Norfolk? You just wait.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • It is about time we all realised (including the Norfolk MP's) that Cameron is the master of seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. Take the last election. After the hopeless disaster that was the Gordon Brown government it should have been an easy victory for the Conservatives. What does Cameron achieve? Not enough seats to secure a majority. Recently at the Dubai Airshow Eurofighter were expected to announce a deal to supply aircraft to the UAE. Cameron visits to "seal the deal" and the announcement is put on hold. Similarly he goes to the EU to negotiate a "Better deal for Britain". He comes back with an inflationary busting increase in contributions by the UK to the EU. And has the cheek to hail it as a "good deal". I agree China presents massive business opportunities but anyone who goes there and thinks one trip will secure a series of business deals is much mistaken. It takes time and the building of long term relationships with potential Chinese customers. A colleague of mine advises the Chinese see a westerner and there are 3 letters on their forehead - ATM. The Chinese are masters of milking money from businesses that are chasing the elusive deal. Every visit to China means that westerners spend money in the hotels, restaurants, shops etc. Meetings end with Yes" is a good productservice, we like it, you must come again and we discuss more." This can go on for years. I would not worry there are no businesses from this region on the trip. Do your best without Cameron, I am sure you will be around much longer than he will.

    Report this comment

    Lord 'Elp-Us

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Homes24
Jobs24
Drive24
MyDate24
MyPhotos24
FamilyNotices24
Weddingsite

loading...

Classifieds, browse or search them online now

The Canary magazine
Order your copy of The Canary magazine

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT