OFFICIALS from the Solent Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have been promoting the area on trips to Washington DC and Bangladesh.

The LEP has been introducing the area, its leading industries and training facilities on trips around the globe.

Chief executive Anne-Marie Mountifield and board director Kevin George went on a trade mission to Washington DC with UK government representatives.

The LEP was part of the second UK-USA Maritime Nations Forum 2019 in Washington, organised by Maritime UK and HM Government. Maritime businesses from both nations were aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, welcomed by the Royal Navy, to celebrate existing links and identify areas for further partnership and collaboration. The event included a focus on decarbonisation.

Among the UK businesses attending were ship owners, law firms, port operators, manufacturers, technical consultancies and training colleges taking part in discussion around key areas for negotiation in a future UK-US Free Trade Agreement. After the HMS Queen Elizabeth visit on day one, delegates visited the Port of Baltimore on day two.

Mr George said: “The economic importance of the Solent-based maritime sector is huge due to the role that it plays as a gateway for trade with the rest of the world. With an annual contribution of over £6billion and forecasts indicating this is set to grow at a rate of 3.1 per cent over coming years, the Solent is at the heart of the world’s marine and maritime sector.

“The US UK maritime forum being held on the Queen Elizabeth Carrier in Washington underscores the importance of the Solent on the global maritime stage and this is a great opportunity to enhance our competitiveness. This trade mission presents a vast opening to boost the export of our maritime products and services whilst attracting more investment into the Solent region.”

At the same time as the Washington event, Solent LEP Growth Hub manager James Ford was in Bangladesh with the new Portsmouth Bangladesh Business Association to strengthen economic ties with the South Asian country.

The event saw the association assist the twinning of Sylhet in Bangladesh with Portsmouth. Those in attendance included University of Portsmouth, PBBA, Portsmouth International Port and Portico. Delegates included entrepreneurs with an interest in joint venture projects.

Mr Ford said: “The Bangladeshi ministries, businesses and chambers have been so welcoming. International trade and foreign investment is considered to be vital in its endeavour to become a robust economy in South Asia and promoting the Solent’s assets here is key to both regions’ economic futures.”

The seven-day mission, based in Dhaka, included a meeting with Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a visit to Sylhet to meet its mayor for the twinning-city agreement, and a meeting with the Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and business elite.

The Hampshire party met representatives from the Education Ministry, the Commerce Ministry, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As well as a visit to Chittagong Port Authority, delegates met dignitaries, government officials and business leaders from all over Bangladesh at a British High Commissioner Reception at the High Commissioner’s Residence.

The LEP has also recently welcomed a delegation from France as part of the TransManche Development Group project to enable companies in the UK, Ille et Vilaine and Brittany to develop bilateral business and to encourage cultural, educational and commercial links.

Future trade missions that the Solent LEP is taking part in include trips to Cannes in France and India.