As Prime Minister visits China, Somerset firms become first to explore new agreement


Paul Nash of Glastonbury Ales and Richard Masters of Masters Brewery in Taunton pictured at the Great Wall of China during their recent tour of the region to explore business partnerships.

Paul Nash of Glastonbury Ales and Richard Masters of Masters Brewery in Taunton pictured at the Great Wall of China.

More Somerset towns could benefit from a flood of Chinese investment after a new ‘friendship and trade’ agreement was signed with a thriving province of China.

As the Prime Minister visits China this week, the Taunton-based Masters Brewery and Glastonbury Ales have already begun to take advantage of the agreement with a two-week tour which could now lead to the export of Somerset beers to China.

China is also now linking with Somerset brewers to develop the first ever Chinese cider brand.

Somerset firm The Culture Exchange helped to broker the new agreement alongside the influential Heart of the South West Business Forum, and are now aiming to advise hundreds of other local firms on how to benefit from Chinese investment.

Local firms are invited to an information morning at Bridgwater College on Thursday 12th December to discover how they could benefit.

The news comes on the back of the announcement about Chinese investors in EDF Energy’s Hinckley point C project, which demonstrates a real attractiveness to the area by Chinese investors.

The Culture Exchange introduced managers from Masters Brewery to the leaders of ‘Tsingtao’ – China’s biggest brewery.

Chris Marrow, of the Heart of the South West Business Forum, comments: “This is good news for Somerset and towns like Taunton can really benefit. Firms like Masters Brewery are already starting to see these opportunities. There will be many more to come.”

The trade agreement with the booming Shandong region of China is focused on areas including food, farming, dairy production, aviation, tourism, education, sport, culture and finance.

There are also plans for dairy production plants working with the city of Zibo in Shandong and educational links for culture and sport that will benefit many Somerset educational institutions.

The Culture Exchange is made up of Directors Darren Horne, of Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce, and Mu Liu who also owns the Battleborough Grange Hotel in Brent Knoll.

They have been developing business links with the UK and China for 10 years. Both have been making regular trips to China to meet business bosses and the Chinese Government, and are hopeful that the new trade agreement will pave the way for thousands more jobs in the years to come.

Mr Horne comments: “These are exciting days for local businesses to take advantage of opportunities that this Chinese money will create, and it is worthwhile all local firms exploring how they can do business on the back of this.”