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HUMBER REGION BUSINESS BID TO BOOST TRADE WITH ICELAND

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Representatives of 25 organisations from Kingston upon Hull and other areas of the Humber region are making their f...
Representatives of 25 organisations from Kingston upon Hull and other areas of the Humber region are making their final preparations for the fully-subscribed six-day mission to Iceland next month (November) in a bid to extend, or establish, trade with the country.

The visit, a cross-estuary initiative, has been organised by the Kingston upon Hull City Council through the Hull Economic Development Agency (Hull EDA). It is the sequel to an import-export mission by Icelandic businessmen to the Humber region last October - the first of its kind for years - and subsequent trade briefings by Orn Valdimarsson, the Commercial Officer at the British Embassy in Iceland, during his visit to the city in February.

Jim McCulloch, the British Ambassador to Iceland, and several influential organisations - including the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Icelandic Trade - have pledged their fullest co-operation during the trade mission, which will be centred on Reykjavik, from Tuesday, November 11th, until Sunday, November 16th.

In addition to three days of business-to-business meetings, the ambassador will host a reception at his residence to welcome the visitors, who have also been invited to a civic authority luncheon in the capital's historical art gallery, while two shipping companies - Samskip and Eimskip - will also hold receptions for the delegates.

The Hull EDA will promote a 'Kingston upon Hull Week', including an exhibition highlighting the city's fishing industry - and its traditionally strong links with Iceland - as well as a special tableau feature devoted to the history and development of Kingston Upon Hull to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the city being granted its city charter by Queen Victoria.

Among the delegates from Kingston upon Hull will be Asa Einarsdottir,

General Manager for Samskip, with United Kingdom headquarters in the city, and Dominic Ward, a partner with Andrew M Jackson and Co., (AMJ) one of the city's leading firms of solicitors.

In addition, MGH Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eimskip, the Icelandic steamship line, for whom they are UK agents, will be represented by Rikhard O Rikhardsson, who manages the company's Iceland Export Department, and Mike McDonald, a manager within the department, who are both the MGH Head Office at Immingham. MGH also has an office on the Port of Hull docks.

Samskip, who have been based in Kingston upon Hull for 30 years, operate the only regular sailings between the Port of Hull and Reykjavik.

On a route which takes in Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Arhus, Varberg and Moss, their sister ships MS Arnarfell and MS Helgafell sail weekly between the two ports. Their alternating time-table means that they leave Reykjavik on a Thursday and arrive at King George Dock every Monday; they leave on the return journey the same day and arrive in Iceland nine days later.

The majority of the cargo discharged at the Port of Hull is frozen sea-food and fresh fish, consumer goods - cars, clothing, electrical equipment and steel - form the basis of freight to Iceland, whose population is 260,000.

'We were impressed by the enthusiasm of the Icelanders to encourage trading relationships when they visited the city last year, and I know that we will get a warm welcome in November,' said Miss Einarsdottir.

'The main purpose of our visit is to cement relationships with existing customers, but we also hope to forge new links with companies who are developing their own trading partnerships with Iceland,' she added.

Miss Einarsdottir will be joined by her Icelandic-based Samskip colleagues when the company hosts the reception. They will include Baldur Gudnason (Head of Transport), Olafur Steinarsson (Head of Import), and Robert Wessmann (Head of Export).

The importance of the mission is further emphasised by the Eimskip-hosted reception at which Mr Rikhardsson and Mr McDonald will be joined by the company's senior managers, Thordur Sverrisson (Senior Director, International Transportation), Erlendur Hjaltason (Senior Director, Foreign Business), and Gudmundur Thorbjornsson (Manager, International Sales Service).

Eimskip operates two routes southbound from Iceland, with four vessels - Lagarfoss, Hanne Sif, Dettlfoss and Bakka Foss - providing a weekly service, arriving in Immingham each Sunday and Monday, with Dettifoss and Bakkafoss also calling at ports along the Icelandic coast and the Faroe Islands on the route.

For exports from the UK to Iceland, Eimskip operates a sailing every

Thursday, when the Lagarfoss and Hanne Sif return direct to Iceland.

Consequently, Eimskip offer a three day transit for all cargo, northbound or southbound.

Confident that the mission will be rewarding, Jon Stefansson, MGH's

Managing Director, said: 'MGH has been active in the Icelandic trade for over 70 years, building long-term relationships with customers in the UK and Iceland. The trade mission can only assist in building bridges between the trading partners in each country.'

He added: 'The main objective of our participation is to ensure that we assist in creating on our UK friends a positive impression about the Icelandic business environment and help, in every way possible, to make the trade mission a great success.'

Dominic Ward, one of nine lawyers in Andrew M Jackson's Admiralty and Shipping Department, will be accompanied by Mark Warburton, a colleague in the firm's six lawyer-strong Company Commercial Department.

AMJ represent Eimskip and also acts on behalf of the company's UK

subsidiaries. The law firm, which has acted on behalf of several Icelandic fishing vessel owners, also represents Grimsby-based Coldwater (UK) Ltd. - formerly Icelandic Freezing Plants - importers of frozen fish products and the UK subsidiary of an Icelandic company.

'The visit will give us a rare opportunity to see our clients in Iceland and also the chance to make new contacts,' said Mr Ward, who made a company visit to Reykjavik a year ago (September 1996).

During the visit, Mr Ward and Mr Warburton also plan to hold discussions with representatives of Icelandic law firms.

'We are delighted and encouraged by the enthusiasm of companies on both banks of the Humber who feel that the visit will give them a further opportunity to establish, or extend, trading partnerships,' said Mark Jones, Business Initiatives Manager at the Hull EDA.

Phil Hall, a Business Initiatives Officer at the Hull EDA, who visited

Iceland earlier this year to discuss arrangements for the mission, feels that it will give businesses a unique opportunity to broaden their activities in a fast expanding region.

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