Small Firms Rule The World Says Freight And Logistics Boss

One of the young guns of the British freight forwarding industry makes some valid points this week regarding the future of trade with Asia, particularly China, and is unreservedly optimistic. Nicole Howarth, managing director of Telford based Global Freight, 2010 Shropshire Small Business of the Year, believes vast opportunities await small and medium sized enterprises (SME's) prepared to be bold and investigate possible opportunities. Global have insinuated themselves into the cross trade supply chain recently and provide logistics services for imported Chinese goods which they then redistribute for UK based customers to countries like Japan, the USA, Finland and elsewhere in Europe.

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Ms Howarth, herself a recent Man everywoman in Transport and Logistics award nominee, started Global in 1996 and points out the fact that in both the UK and China 99% of companies listed are of SME status and that the UK's Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Green, was backing moves by UKTI and the China-Britain Business Council to support SME's which want to expand their business to China.

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"By 2015, around 60% of the global GDP will come from the growing overseas markets of the BRIC group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and SME's should be looking to these countries, particularly China and India over the next 12 to 18 months, as opportunities to begin export relationships," she says.

Other analysts however aren't always as optimistic, Dr Kerry Brown, head of the Asia Programme at the think tank Chatham House, has been quoted as saying that the Chinese government's budget of £56 billion per annum to maintain 'internal security' indicated potential instability as different sectors of society wake up to individual ethnic possibilities.

Unlike Ms Howarth, Dr Brown feels the business sector often paints a rosy picture due to the recent impressive growth statistics and foretells a 'dangerous period' because of the scale of economic and social changes which the country is undergoing in such a short period.

As usual this gazing into economic crystal balls produces a different analysis from every quarter, overall however the political and economic wheels that drive China forward are notoriously slow to turn. Premier Wen Jiabao's speech to the Royal Society in London yesterday emphasised his view that China 'had emerged from the financial crisis stronger and is now on a steady course of growth,' and confirmed a personal responsibility to improving the legal system and promoting true democracy.

China's history of seizing on individual products and copying them shamelessly with no regard for copyright means they are eyed with suspicion by many Western companies. Such practices must be seen to be eliminated if Mr Wen Jiabao wants to live up to his clearly stated intention to continue to promote trade with every country he has visited on his current tour, and he must beware pressures at home, not least a reported rise in unemployment and the inequalities which exist in Chinese society which have long been a hallmark of the country, if he hopes to succeed.

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