Last month, Mark Pinner, MD of Interel’s office in China, told us what the potential implications of Brexit were for relations with the country. Far from being a closed market, Mark believes that China is on its way to becoming a higher-end market economy, with the shift in Chinese economic priorities making the UK a more natural partner particularly within the services sector.
With this in mind, earlier this month Mark addressed an audience in Northern Ireland alongside the Lord Mayor of Belfast and the head of Invest Northern Ireland (NI) at Belfast City Hall to encourage businesses to explore the possibilities of the ‘golden-age’ in UK-Chinese trade.
Organised by communications agency Chambré Public Affairs in association with the City Council, the event brought together local politicians, investment agencies and local business representatives, who have an active interest in doing business with China.
Northern Ireland is already committed to developing a working relationship with China, with a Sister City Agreement in place with Hefei, in Anhui Province. These relationships will become increasingly important as the post-Brexit landscape starts to evolve. Any instability of a weakened EU or UK will hamper efforts to support economic development in the country, while Chinese investment may also help to calm fears of an economic fallout.
Peter Curran, head of trade in Asia Pacific at Invest NI, highlighted healthcare, aerospace, food and drink as areas with real growth potential and emphasised the importance of attending key events in order to offer businesses the guidance and support to break into and grow into the market.
Time will tell over the coming months and years as to how much of a priority the Golden Era will be, but for now there’s an opportunity for Northern Ireland, and the UK in general, to continue to build and leverage this relationship with a view to fostering economic growth and prosperity.