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UK companies networking to lure investment from China (2)

By ecily Liu and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

14:31, April 23, 2013

The hub was formed in the early 1980s, when the Flintshire authorities implemented dramatic measures to attract inward investment after about 6,500 jobs in the county were lost during the collapse of Britain's coal and steel industries.

The redundancies in Flintshire created a surplus of a highly skilled manufacturing workers, which coupled with relatively cheap land costs and a welcoming local government successfully attracted investment from several multinational giants including Tata Steel, JCB, Airbus and Toyota.

For a county of 150,000, such an achievement is remarkable. But Shotton's team now envisages a "second phase" of inward investment with greater focus on emerging markets like China.

One motive behind this push is the hope that a government-to-government relationship may help local businesses that already have a China link to make new breakthroughs.

One such company is Flintshire-based SmartKem, a manufacturer of flexible and plastic electronic displays used in applications such as e-readers and smartphones. Having established a representative office in Hong Kong last year, SmartKem is currently in discussions with many potential Chinese customers. It plans to set up manufacturing capacity in China during its next stage of development, and hopes to find a suitable Chinese partner for the manufacturing.

Another example is EA Technology, which established a representative office in Shanghai in 2009 to sell monitoring devices that detect faults inside power generating machines. It now generates over $1.5 million of sales from China annually, with ambitions for much more, to make the best of China's large energy market.

Other companies in Flintshire are looking to work with Chinese companies in Europe. One example is Comtek Communications, a developer and manufacturer of specialty wireless communications equipment, which hopes to work with Chinese telecommunications companies like Huawei Technologies Co Ltd on network projects in Europe.

"It is so exciting to see Chinese telecommunications companies growing at such an incredible speed and winning so many contracts in Europe. We are very keen to provide them with specialist support services," said Askar Sheibani, chief executive of Comtek.

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