UPDATED: Foreign Office minister visits Lotus headquarters at Hethel

East Anglian businesses were yesterday urged by a government minister to 'go east' in a bid to promote growth and create new jobs.

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne paid a visit to Norfolk to see for himself some of the firms that already have a presence in rapidly expanding Far Eastern markets.

But the Liberal Democrat also sent out a rallying call to other businesses to take advantage of growing economies in South East Asia.

Mr Browne visited the Group Lotus headquarters before addressing delegates at the Hethel Engineering Centre about the opportunities and expansion prospects of entering growing Asian markets.

With Far Eastern economies estimated to grow by 50pc by 2015, East Anglia is well placed to prosper because of its large number of hi-tech firms, advanced engineering and motorsport companies, he said.

Mr Browne encouraged businesses to be open to more cultural exchanges and added that Britain would benefit from more universities and colleges offering Mandarin language courses.

'People have to be alert to the fact that there is a revolution taking place in the world order and China in particular and Asia more generally is spectacular and that is where the economic growth is taking place in the world and we need to think as a country of benefiting from that.'

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Mr Browne spoke to business people at a 'Doing Business in Asia' conference in Newmarket yesterday to encourage firms to get involved in Asian enterprise as part of the coalition government's desire for the private sector to aid the country's economic recovery.

He also met with businesses based at the Hethel Engineering Centre, which already have branches and offices in China.

Paul Riley, sales director of the Genite Corporation, which designs and supplies commercial refrigera-tors and coffee machines, said he wanted the British government to show the same business innovation and design focus as the Chinese.

'I have been working in China for the last 15 years,' he said. 'They opened the door in the 1980s, but more so now than ever. It is tough to be based there, the supply chain in China is quite volatile, but if you get it right it is very rewarding.'

Gavin Farmer, managing director of Scion-Sprays, which makes fuel injection systems for small engines in China, added that better access to language courses and business networking opportunities would also help firms enter new foreign markets.