Monmouthshire is set to benefit from “close and committed” trade links with China following the success of the National Road Race Championships, it has been revealed.
Northern Automotive Systems (NAS), the Chinese-owned multinational, this week confirmed its intention to forge “constructive and profitable” ties with the county.
The £30million company, which supplies components to the automotive industry, said the relationship may also strengthen bonds and “open a dialogue” between Wales and China generally.
Details of what this “strategic alliance” will involve have not yet been disclosed.
But it is understood that Monmouthshire will benefit from ongoing financial investment into NAS’ Gilwern plant – thereby boosting job opportunities and safeguarding the long-term future of its 500 staff.
Other perks include the prospect of a “Global Gateway” scheme, which would give UK-based staff the opportunity to work in Ningbo in southern China and visa-versa.
NAS’ decision follows a deal it struck with Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) to secure title sponsorship of June’s National Road Race Championships.
Cimei Zhou, President and CEO of NAS, described MCC as a “Great British council” and praised its leaders for their “progressive approach to international relations”.
“Our decision to strike a close and committed relationship with Monmouthshire is based upon the overwhelming success of the Championships, and upon the friendships we made with Council leaders,” he added.
“NAS and Monmouthshire County Council share a common goal of building economic bridges, and it is with confidence that I now look ahead.”
The development has been welcomed by Monmouth MP David Davies. “It is wonderful when a powerhouse like Northern Automotive Systems discloses an intent to forge ongoing trading ties, and I look forward to supporting this exciting proposition in any way that I can.”
He added: “A relationship such as this promises to secure the livelihoods of countless local employees, whilst bringing additional benefits to the county as a whole.”
The true economic value that the Championships brought to Monmouthshire directly, through tourism and other means, is still being calculated by MCC, which hopes to publish the figures in coming months.
But County Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for economic development, said the cycling event gave Monmouthshire “unparalleled” attention in the international media.
Speaking about ties with China, he added: “Historically, the authority’s relationship with Northern Automotive Systems has been based upon its close links with the company’s Gilwern plant.
“But the Championships gave us the rare opportunity to forge ties with the company’s Chinese contingent, and to meet those representatives in person.
“I am obviously pleased that we, as a council, were able to foresee the economic benefits of doing so.”
Geoff Hancock, President of NAS UK, added: “Though still in its infancy, this strategic alliance is incredibly exciting and will, I hope, benefit our exceptional workforce.”