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UK companies networking to lure investment from China (3)

By ecily Liu and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

14:31, April 23, 2013

Sheibani said his sales team has already had frequent meetings with staff at Huawei's UK subsidiary, but no agreement has yet been reached.

"One challenge is the lack of access to the key decision makers at Huawei. And we are really hoping that the Chinese embassy can help us with this," Sheibani said.

Having heard the aspirations of Flintshire businesses like SmartKem, EA Technology and Comtek, Zhou said he is more than happy to help.

"I knew very little about Flintshire before my visit, but when I came here, I was pleasantly surprised to find the range of advanced manufacturing and technology businesses already operating here. I believe the potential for its cooperation with China is huge," Zhou said.

Even if Zhou had very little knowledge about Flintshire before his visit, it is easy to imagine that many Chinese investors may have never heard of the place, despite the wealth of opportunities the county offers.

This paradox highlights a challenge faced by many UK local governments for resource constraints, meaning they can hardly promote themselves overseas.

Indeed, the numbers tell the story. UK Trade and Investment, the central government arm responsible for attracting inward investment, had a total of 2,252 employees including trade advisers in 96 overseas markets as of March 2012. In comparison, Flintshire County Council's Regeneration team, responsible for economic growth, has only 25 employees.

But with UKTI organizing many events for Chinese businesses in London, where it is headquartered, regional governments like Flintshire County Council now feel increasingly compelled to promote local opportunities independently.

Though the council's meeting with the Chinese delegation was certainly a good start, Zhou feels there are more ways his team can help, including promoting communication and cooperation between enterprises on both sides, as well as helping exchange of delegations, providing them with information on how to exhibit products at trade fairs in China.

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