Leeds City Region signs deal with major Chinese city

An agreement has been signed which could see a huge boost in trade between the Leeds City Region and one of China's major cities.

A hot-air balloon flies over a container port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province
A hot-air balloon flies over a container port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province

The deal is designed to stimulate trade with the port city of Qingdao, which has a GDP of one trillion yuan, is home to nine million people and is well known for producing Tsingtao beer.

The first of the two agreements was signed with the China-Britain Industry Innovation Park (CBIIP) which is the first co-operative industrial park between the Chinese and British government and is spread over 15 square kilometres. The park, opened in November 2017, aims to strengthen bilateral cooperation and exporting opportunities between the two nations.

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As a result of this, local businesses will be able to access free space to showcase products and services within the CBIIP to an influential audience of investors and professional buyers for two years.

This has proved a successful model for a similar agreement between Germany and China. The Sino-German Ecopark in Qingdao launched in 2013 has attracted $4billion investment.

In further news, a second MoU has been signed with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) to increase trade opportunities between Qingdao and Leeds City Region through a co-ordinated programme of activity.

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council said: “It is crucial for businesses in Leeds City Region to position their products effectively within this vast marketplace and seek out trade and collaboration opportunities. That’s why I am delighted that we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the CBIIP and the CCPIT in Qingdao which I believe will help our businesses enter this fast-growing economy.”

Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council said: “The scale of opportunity for business in our region to trade with China is significant. Successful Huddersfield companies ConnectChina, Fired Up and Scala Consulting have all grown their business from targeting this market. Signing this agreement gives other companies in our region a low risk way to showcase their products and build collaborative relationships.”

Xuechao GAO, Project Director, China-Britain Innovation Industry Park said: “The MoU will build a long-term friendly relationship, promoting stable, mutually beneficial political and business connections; enhancing practical cooperation in economy, trade, creativity, culture, life science, finance and other fields. Companies from Leeds City Region will enjoy marketing assistance and investment facilitation provided by CBIIP. Next year, both two sides will look for opportunities to hold promotional events for each other.”

Also during the trip an agreement has been signed to build on strong links between Leeds City Region and Qingdao.

These agreements build on cooperation between Qingdao and Bradford. In 2017 Bradford City of Film launched a film office in Qingdao after supporting the Chinese city in its own bid to become a UNESCO City of Film. Investment from Qingdao in the UK so far totals £86m ($113m). The city has grown brands that are household names in China and elsewhere in Asia, such as air-conditioning and heating company HAIER and appliances company Hi-Sense which has a UK HQ in Leeds.