Manchester-China Forum set to launch

20 March 2013

Manchester continues to act on its ambitious goals of significantly improving trade links with the world’s second-largest economy, with the launch of the Manchester-China Forum, next month.

The aim of the forum is to increase international connectivity and enhance Manchester’s position as the main UK gateway to China in the North of England, and increasingly a European route in its own right. Growing closer to China in all ways is central to the Greater Manchester Strategy, which is sharply focused on long-term, sustainable economic growth.

The forum is designed to leverage local and national assets in the public and private sector, to increase trade, inward investment, tourism and international education.

A broad range of mainly private sector partners are involved including the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, Deloitte, Holroyd Precision, Bruntwood, BT, New Economy, MIDAS, the China British Business Council, the GM Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Arts Centre, UKTI, the Business Growth Hub and Pro.Manchester.

Charlie Cornish, the Chair of the forum, and Chief Executive of MAG, said: “We’ve been very vocal in our desire to secure a direct Chinese airline service during the last few months, an ambition based on forging stronger economic links between China and the North of England. Manchester is the gateway for that, and this high-powered forum is a strong vehicle to help us connect with the massive economic growth China continues to generate, gaining the benefits our economy desperately needs. This is an ambitious step.”

The Manchester-China Forum is membership-based, and open to all companies and organisations wanting to strengthen ties between the city and China. It will support a wide variety of activities and events, including seminars, speaker meetings, meet-the-buyer events and networking, as well as leveraging partner experience, visits, trade missions and supply chains – all aimed at forging deeper economic ties.

The forum will also have a presence in China and has appointed Lord Nat Wei as a non-executive director. Lord Wei’s involvement is a big boost and he has already begun to shape the forum with the Wei Report, which helped bring together many national players and financiers who had not previously seen Manchester as an opportunity to access China. The report, which was launched at the House of Lords, set out how Manchester could best go about boosting trade and economic links with China.

Lord Nat Wei, non-executive director of the forum, said: “The establishment of the Manchester–China Forum is a major play to help provide focus and co-ordination to this effort, attracting private and third-party resources. The forum creates a central point focused on analysis of the two-way supply chain and on developing partnerships between large and small firms to help gain contracts with Chinese suppliers. It will engage more with incoming visitors and students, ensuring a better and more tailored visitor experience and that they stay in touch when they return. There is much to do in the years ahead but Manchester is determined to seize the opportunity.”

Mike Blackburn, Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and a BT Regional Director, said: “Getting Manchester more internationalised is central to the LEP’s agenda and key to future economic growth, and nowhere is this increased engagement more crucial than China. The Euro crisis is on everyone’s mind, but China produces the equivalent economic wealth of the entire Greek economy every eleven and a half weeks. Bringing together what we have and building on it, rapidly, is the essence of the right economic strategy. This is the make or break future for us and we’re giving it everything we have as the best real-world way to secure the sustainable economic growth we need.”

For more information, or to register interest, email James Ager at Manchester Airport on


Lord Nat Wei’s report can be read here:


Published on: 20/03/2013 10:00:00