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The pace of change in China has been rapid since the implementation of the late Deng Xiaoping's free market economics and, at present, many of the proponents of modernisation in central government herald from the Shanghai area, including President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, making the city one of the centres of China's new-found wealth.

Therefore, the China Didac Worlddidac 2001 show, held at the Everbright Centre in Shanghai, offered an opportunity for overseas companies to establish business links and contacts in the growing education market. This International Education and Training show, held between November 14 and 16, boasted 14 UK companies taken to China by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa) and Clarion Events to the show. This year, Besa has administered the Trade Partners UK SESA grant entitling companies to 60 per cent off the costs of the stands to a maximum of pound;2,300 and a further pound;1,200 travel grant.

The potential market is huge as China, the fastest growing economy in the world, educates 25 per cent of the world's students with just 1 per cent of the world's education budget. And the Brits appeared to be making progress. Steve Whitley of Data Harvest said he made some good contacts, but distribution was a problem as was price - products were often twice the price of their Chinese counterparts.

Steve Palmer of Dolphin was very pleased with the response to the Lunar Screen Enlarger software which enhances Windows for people with poor eyesight, enabling them to see computer screens more clearly. "Most of our visitors have never seen anything like it," he says.

Others, like Invicta (already with a Chinese partner), used the show to consolidate its position. Chris Foster, Invicta Plastics' international business manager, commented that 75 per cent of his contacts have been new ones from countries as far afield as Vietnam, Albania, India, Mexico, Israel, Japan and Taiwan. "The support from Besa, the British Embassy and the Department of Trade and Industry has been brilliant," he added.

Those UK companies exhibiting in China included: Company: CR Clarke amp; Co Products: Thermoforming and thermoplastic fabricating

www.crclarke.co.uk

Company: Data Harvest

Products: Hardware and software for monitoringcontrol.

www.data-harvest.co.uk

Company: Dolphin Computer Access

Products: Software for visually impaired computer users.

Company: Granada Learning

Products: Educational multimedia.

www.granada-learning.co.uk

Company: International Educational Services

Service: UK and Ireland student recruitment service.

www.ies.gb.com

Company: Invicta Plastics

Products: Educational materials for pre-school and primary

www.invictagroup.co.uk

Company: New Wave Concepts

Products: Curriculum software for electronics education.

www.new-wave-concepts.com

Company: Oxford English Online

Products: Online English training solutions.

www.oeol.comactivate Company: Red Bee Education

Products: Educational resources.

www.sales@ed.tech.co.uk

Company: Swindon College

Service:UK Further Education College.

www.swindon-college.ac.uk

Company: VJ Tech

Products: Civil engineering test instruments and software.

www.vjtech.co.uk

Company: Wilson amp; Garden

Products: The Revolving Surface Writing Board.

info@wilsonandgarden.com

Justin Stevens

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