Humber firms look east for business opportunities

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 14 Sep 2018

HULL has recently hit the headlines for its close business ties with the United States. 

In fact, a top trade team led by Rhode Island’s Secretary of Commerce will be visiting the city later this month in a bid to strike deals with some of the region’s businesses. 

Hull is the only city in the country which exports more to the US than Europe, but it is not just the States that are proving to be a happy hunting ground for city firms. 

China has topped the US as the country that companies in Yorkshire and the Humber see as holding the most export opportunities, according to Lloyds Bank’s latest Business In Britain report. 

As more firms look to the Far East for trading opportunities, Kelly Green, regional director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, assesses the Chinese market and what businesses need to consider to grow sales. 

“Many firms in the region currently trade with China, but evidence suggests that more businesses are turning their heads from west to east in the hunt for overseas sales, especially as the shape of the future trading relationship with the EU remains unclear,” Ms Green said.

“Our research found that Yorkshire trades more with China than any other UK region. 

“Almost £40m of goods were bound there from the Port of Hull in 2017. Last year exports to China grew in value by 17 per cent, and we only expect this to increase as the country becomes more open to foreign investment.”

A flurry of trade deals, which have been announced in recent months, is expected to open more doors for firms across the region in the Far East.

China agreed to accept imports of British dairy products, in a deal that is set to be worth £240m over the next five years.

This follows the lifting of a ban on UK beef exports to China in June.

With a host of exceptional food and drinks businesses established in Hull, the Far East could become a key trading ground in years to come.

Ms Green said: “Despite steps in the right direction, doing business in China can still be complicated.

“Many firms struggle with currency or language barriers, or to fully understand the country’s unique business culture.

“It’s imperative, like for any other market, that businesses do their research before considering targeting China. 

“Undertaking thorough due diligence on the market and how it operates is essential.”

Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce and government organisations can also help businesses find trusted buyers or distributors. 

Given China is such a prominent country for Yorkshire firms to export to, getting advice and tips from fellow business leaders in the region can provide crucial first-hand advice. 

There is also a wealth of financial support on offer to help businesses trading overseas manage risk, such as bridging finance and products that provide protection against adverse currency fluctuations. 

“It’s essential to factor things like this into a decision to trade overseas,” Ms Green said.

“And, if exporting is done right, it can provide an extremely lucrative revenue boost. As an increasingly important trading partner to the UK, taking the leap of faith into the Chinese market could be a smart move.”

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