North East business and community leaders have welcomed the Indian Consul General,  Dr Shashank Vikram, to the region as part of ongoing discussions to increase global export links and further strengthen bi-lateral trade opportunities between local and overseas organisations.

Hosted by regional ambassador and entrepreneur, Ammar Mirza CBE, Dr Vikram was guest of honour at a reception and roundtable event to champion North East businesses, discussing potential inward investment, new jobs creation, emerging industries and worldwide market opportunities as part of the UK and India’s strategic growth and economic recovery plans.

He also visited the Tyneside Scottish Army Reserve Centre at Kingston Park, Newcastle, as well as the development site of the proposed multi-million pound ‘International Space Station’, a dedicated, centre of excellence ‘trade hub’ which is soon to be constructed at AirView Park.

The 10,200 sq ft office development will help SMEs launch, scale-up and take advantage of export routes via neighbouring Newcastle International Airport, whilst also supporting in-bound trade from overseas. It will provide companies with greater access to Indian, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Pakistani and Dutch markets via a collaborative business model offering world-class expertise and connectivity through trusted partners.

Local dignatories including North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll, and Colonel Peter Winton (HM Forces, British Army 204 Tyneside Scottish Regiment Royal Artillery), as well as North East industry representatives from NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the Malhotra Group, the North East Local Entreprise Partnership (NELEP), Newcastle International Airport, North East England Chamber of Commerce (NEECC), Invest Newcastle and Asian Business Connexions, were in attendance.

Ammar Mirza CBE, explained, “This was a fantastic trade event and a real opportunity to demonstrate and showcase the strength, breadth and diversity of North East industries to key stakeholders. Our discussions were very productive and identified many different ways that mutually-beneficial, collaborative partnerships could become the catalyst for strategic growth, not just for individual companies but also the region as a whole.

“The North East has so much to offer and significant opportunities exist going forward for all parties. By engaging and working more closely together, we can help to attract overseas companies that may be looking to the UK as part of global investment plans, here to the region, and at the same time, provide emerging SMEs with access to new markets when developing their export potential. We’re therefore delighted to have welcomed Consul General, Dr Vikram, to the region and welcome further discussions with delegates moving forward.”

Consul General, Dr Vikram, who has worked on behalf of the Indian Government in South Africa and is now based in the UK, added. “The North East presents a unique set of opportunities to strengthen the already robust trade relationship between India and the UK. We look forward to working together to explore these opportunities and the synergies presented by the region through the International Space Station Trade Centre.

“We also take this opportunity to thank the Mayor, Mr Jamie Driscoll, members of the business community, the Indian diaspora in Newcastle, the Chamber of Commerce, officials from the airport authority, the 101st Regiment Royal Artillery and Mr Ammar Mirza CBE for organising and hosting the roundtable to promote trade, tourism and technology as India celebrates its 75th year of independence.”

Mayor of the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Jamie Driscoll, said, “It was good to meet Dr Vikram in person – we’d met online previously. Trade is a win-win, and we’re building a strong spirit of cooperation with the Indian Consul General’s office. The North of Tyne is an outward looking region, and we’re keen to expand on our exports and bring firms here with inward investment.

“The North of Tyne offers first-rate support to companies wanting to locate here, and our support for SMEs to innovate includes specialist advice, grants, loans and equity investment.  There really is no better place to do business.”