NW ‘stealing a march’ with China says Osborne

CHANCELLOR George Osborne believes Greater Manchester and the North West have “stolen a march” on the rest of the country by forging new links with China.

Speaking at the launch of the new Manchester China Forum , Mr Osborne said it should help deliver direct flights to China – a key goal of Manchester Airports Group which is the driving force behind the new initiative.
He said: “I think in creating this forum that Manchester has spotted that a huge part of this county’s economic future is going to be tied to China because it is the world’s biggest market.

“The businesses in Manchester, the engineering firms, the services companies, the local architectural practices, the legal firms, all the great businesses in Manchester have a huge opportunity to sell their products and services into China.”

Mr Osborne said the new Forum should make it a “less daunting process” for small firms to export goods and services to China.

Better trade links and more outgoing business from the North West to China would create the sustainable environment for direct flights from Manchester.

He ruled out any change in stance on the unpopular Airline Passenger Duty (APD), which airport operators and airlines claim is a major competitive disadvantage.

“We have looked at it, and decided not to do it (abolish the tax). Airline Passenger Duty is an important revenues raiser for the Government – it allows us to fund health, education and the police.

“Our view is that it’s not having the impact that some claim on air travel… I don’t think it’s directly relevant to the question of air links to China.”

During his speech Mr Osborne said Manchester and the North West were positioning themselves to exploit a “new industrial revolution” taking place in China.

“For many many Chinese families it will be the first opportunity for them to travel on aeroplanes or go on foreign holidays. I want to make sure when they do that they come to visit Britain, and I want to make sure that they go on aeroplanes powered by Rolls-Royce engines whose fan blades are made in Lancashire, on wings that are made in North Wales.”

He praised Manchester-based architects’ firm BDP for the recent success it has had winning work in China, which has seen its team in Shanghai double to more than 30.