Lincolnshire county councillor seeks extension of Chinese partnership and new trade agreement with Indian state

A senior county councillor has said he is hopeful of extending Lincolnshire’s partnership with a booming Chinese province, while at the same time creating a trade agreement with a large Indian state.

Councillor Colin Davie, responsible for economy and place at Lincolnshire County Council, said that the future was about the three major world economies of China, India and America, and Lincolnshire had to forge ahead and build close ties with those countries to boost business opportunities.

Lincolnshire County Council signed a declaration of friendship and economic co-operation with Hunan province in September 2015.

Delegates from the province in south-east China, which has a population of 67 million, bigger than the entire UK, visited Lincoln in 2015 to agree the declaration promoting common prosperity and development.

Councillor Davie, who was instrumental in reaching the agreement, has said that further “massive announcements” will be made throughout 2018, strengthening Lincolnshire’s ties with Hunan.

He said that a delegation of around 70 would be heading to Lincolnshire in April, and that a high-profile political visit would coincide with new agreements potentially being signed in June.

When asked what the relevance of this was to Lincolnshire residents, Councillor Davie said: “Chinese students contribute £130 million per year to the economy of Nottingham. I want to see Chinese students and Chinese businesses come to Lincolnshire. If Chinese businesses make investments in Lincolnshire, that will create new jobs. New jobs create wealth in the economy and spend in the local area so it does benefit people long term.

“We know China is a growing economy in the world. Trade with China is vitally important to this country and it will be more important in the future post-Brexit so we need to build those close relationships now.”

Since the initial partnership was agreed with Hunan, Councillor Davie has also looked to develop a similar agreement with Pinellas County in western Florida.

Work on this project is still ongoing but Councillor Davie added that he was looking to build a relationship with a big state in India, with progress on this possible by the early summer.

He said: “The future is going to be about three places. It’s going to be about China, it’s going to be about America and it’s going to be about India.

“It’s important that we don’t rely on London to tell us in Lincolnshire what we can do in terms of business and opportunity.

“It’s important that we have our own relationships and that’s what I’m trying to create.”