China presents ‘massive’ opportunity for East Anglia’s businesses, says farm leader

Clarke Willis, non-executive chairman of LinksEast.

Clarke Willis, non-executive chairman of LinksEast. - Credit: Submitted

The East of England's burgeoning trade into China represents a 'massive' opportunity, according to the new figurehead of a body which aims to promote it.

Former chief executive of Anglia Farmers, Clarke Willis, has stepped into a new role as non-executive chairman of LinksEast.

Mr Willis, who was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to agricultural and rural communities in East Anglia, stood down as head of the 3,500 member farming co-operative at the end of March but will remain involved as a director until the end of June.

He will work alongside LinksEast founder and director Annie Eaves, who said the board had invited Mr Willis to become part of the organisation because of 'his huge amount of knowledge and in-depth understanding' of agri-business in the East of England.

'My recent visit to China brought into focus the massive opportunities for business for both exporting and inward investment from the East of England to China,' said Mr Willis on taking up his new role.


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'Key working relationships and development of professional networks for research and education will aid regional development. I am excited to be involved with and to help drive the vision and initiatives that Annie Eaves has enthused for LinksEast.'

Ms Eaves said his addition to the board as chairman would be 'of enormous benefit' to LinksEast for promoting agricultural exports from this region to the Far East.

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'We are extremely pleased that he has accepted,' she said. 'Clarke's vision, drive and determination will bring an added layer to our exporting initiatives.

'We envisage his role to help bring East of England businesses, who are interested in trading with China, together, so that we can showcase to the Chinese market our excellent local and regional offerings.'

LinksEast, which is sponsored by BlocksLegl to host regional events for food and drink firms, works closely with the China-Britain Business Council, China-Britain Business Council, Visit Britain and the Department of International Trade with the aim of helping to open up markets for the region's small and medium-sized firms who are interested in trading with China.

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