Birmingham firms are increasingly looking to China and India to develop their businesses, according to a new survey.
More than a third (35 per cent) of the members of Birmingham Forward are already working in China, while 59 per cent are working in India.
Overall, 69 per cent of the professional and financial services firms responding indicated they already derive at least part of their revenues from abroad.
The survey shows that 23 per cent of companies responding have already secured Chinese clients or are advising their UK clients on dealings within the country.
Meanwhile, 17 per cent of respondents have at least one representative office in China, with one firm already operating two. In addition, 36 per cent of firms plan to open an office in China within the next three years.
However, the continuing lack of connectivity to China as well as the limited Indian sub-continent access from Birmingham International Airport is still frustrating many firms looking to expand their business operations in the east.
The Government’s announcement this week to consider offering Mandarin as a language option in the 11 to 14 years curriculum will be welcomed.
The survey revealed that currently – out of all the firms who responded to the Forward questionnaire – 20 per cent already had Mandarin Chinese speakers on their teams.
Richard Brennan, chief executive of Birmingham Forward, was pleased to see that many members were already well advanced with their dealings with China.
He said: "We have known for some time that China has massive commercial potential for professional firms in this City. The member survey demonstrates that many of our firms in the professional and financial services sector are working for their clients in China or are working directly for Chinese organisations.
"This is extremely encouraging. One respondent believed this was an emerging and important market to be ignored at our peril and one firm suggested that their expectation was for China to be its biggest market in years to come."
Mr Brennan said many members of the lobby group held reservations about working in the Far East.
He said: "Some of our members, though, are still worried about the human rights issues and working conditions in China and many are still only investigating the potential in terms of logistics and likely financial returns.
"However, our survey clearly shows that China, and indeed the Indian sub-continent, are recognised for their potential. Chinese businesses are already beginning to be Advised in Birmingham by Forward member firms.
"The city’s links to China and the potential for Birmingham’s professional and financial services sector will be the subject of a special Birmingham Forward event in the near future."