A major new group is to work on creating economic and investment opportunities with a leading province in China.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) became the first LEP to use a cultural visit to a Chinese city to develop economic and investment opportunities during a visit to Fuzhou.
Vice chair Nick Abell and chief executive Martin Yardley visited Fuzhou on a cultural trip with Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust.
The duo is now working to forge stronger economic ties with Jiangxi Province, its capital Nanchang and its cultural capital Fuzhou.
Following a visit to key automotive brand, Dorcen Automobile Company, and high-level meetings with government and party officials in Fuzhou, plans are underway for a return visit to Coventry and Warwickshire next year.
Nick said the five-day visit had cemented the Midlands’ presence in China as a place which is keen to do business, and that both parties were keen to explore potential economic partnerships. The visit further reaffirmed the aims of the Midlands Engine China Strategy to secure investment for the area.
He said: “It was a really interesting and informative trip and re-affirmed the strong civic and cultural links between Stratford and Fuzhou.
“It gave the CWLEP the opportunity to develop on-going commercial relationships with automotive investors and partners which is a sector where Coventry and Warwickshire is renowned throughout the world for our expertise.
“After returning to the UK and discussing the potential economic and investment opportunities that are available, the CWLEP is now setting up a specialist China Business Group which will involve all key stakeholders from Coventry and Warwickshire that are involved in working with China.
“There was massive interest shown in the work we do in Coventry and Warwickshire and we want to capitalise on this by strengthening relationships with officials from Fuzhou.
“We have also made a commitment to work alongside an emerging Midlands Engine China Strategy which is being drafted that is taking into account the current economic climate.
“There are numerous opportunities available throughout China but in particular we see many similarities between our region and Jiangxi Province, and we believe by setting up the China Business Group, we will be able to drive forward contracts for companies in Coventry and Warwickshire.”
Fuzhou has strong links with Stratford through the two poets Tang Xianzu and William Shakespeare who died in the same year.
Fuzhou has donated a Peony Pavilion – the subject of Tang Xianzu’s most famous play – to the town as a symbol of the relationship.