Representatives from Ward Hadaway, which boasts offices in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle, made the assessment following a trade visit to the Far East.
The three-day event saw delegates from around the world meet up with representatives of more than 600 companies from Shaanxi Province to help forge new trade links.
During the event, the Ward Hadaway delegation – head of commercial Colin Hewitt and commercial litigation partner Elaine Chan – held a series of face to face meetings with representatives from a number of Chinese businesses.
Elaine Chan, who has a range of experience working with businesses in China and those trading with China, said the conference had demonstrated the real appetite which Chinese companies have for doing business with the UK – and the opportunities for the North’s companies in China.
She said: “There are opportunities for a wide range of different industries including textiles, high end manufacturing, household goods, retail, new technology, and modern agriculture. China remains a significant market for goods and services.
“Until you visit China, you don’t really appreciate the size of the country and population – it is a huge place where each city is enormous and where development is happening on a scale unlike anything in the UK.”
Major infrastructure schemes in China are also a source of potential trade for Northern businesses.
Chan added: “Xi’an, where the conference took place, is within a major Chinese government initiative called “One Belt One Road”, part of which is designed to rebuild the ancient Silk Road overland trading route, and develop economic corridors from China through Central Asia to Europe.
“The Chinese are encouraging businesses from around the world with expertise on such developments to get involved now so this is a major opportunity for UK businesses, from engineering and manufacturing companies to consultancies.”
China also offers opportunities to professional services firms such as Ward Hadaway, which provides legal advice to a wide range of clients across the private and public sectors.
Colin Hewitt said: “A lot of our visit was taken up in outlining our commercial services to Chinese companies and we had a lot of interest from them before and during our trip.
“There is a big emphasis on collaboration in business and developing long term relationships. It’s more about helping each other and growing together so we spoke to a number of companies interested in potential partnerships with companies in the UK, especially in new technology, energy and resources, transport and infrastructure.
“Many companies at the conference are doing well in China and they were aiming to extend their international reach, not just to the UK but also worldwide.”
Ward Hadaway was among eight delegates from the UK attending the conference, which was organised by Bank of China.
Elaine Chan said: “The conference certainly underlined the opportunities open to UK companies to do business in China and vice versa.
“Hopefully the visit can herald further co-operation and trade between Northern England and China.”
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