Business chiefs in the Gatwick Diamond Initiative (GDI) are looking far afield to the Far East to foster trade links with Vietnam.

The key local business forum recently played host to a high-level trade delegation from the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The GDI stated it was keen to share its experience of growing the Gatwick Diamond into a world-class place to live, work and do business.

Local business representatives heard from Hoang Minh Tuan, director general of the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade, that the Vietnam economy is growing at 5.4% - despite the worldwide recession - and overseas trade now accounts for $230 billion.   Following the 2010 agreement between the UK and Vietnam governments, there are now many more opportunities for inward investment, export and import.

Rosemary French, executive director of the GDI, said: “We are delighted that the reputation of the Gatwick Diamond has spread to Vietnam, boosted by regular flights from Gatwick Airport with Vietnam Airlines to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.”

Local business Elekta Oncology hosted the meeting at its offices in Manor Royal, Crawley.

Elekta already supplies six hospitals in Vietnam and the delegation was keen to learn more about the medical device cluster strengths in the Gatwick Diamond.  The delegation was also introduced to Tetreon Technologies, an award-winning local manufacturer, Crawley MP Henry Smith, and representatives from Vietnam Airlines.

They announced that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will come into service in 2015, bringing daily flights to Vietnam.

The GDI will be working with UK Trade and Investment this year to arrange a reciprocal visit to Vietnam for local businesses.

The GDI takes its name from a diamond shape drawn around Gatwick Airport, reflecting the influence the airport has on the lives of the people in that area, including East Surrey. The group was initiated by the Surrey and West Sussex Economic Partnerships and involves Surrey and West Sussex county councils, six borough and district councils, and a range of public and private sector partners. It was launched to help make Gatwick as successful as other airport-focused communities, and to transform it into a flourishing economy that encourages innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.