A NORTH-EAST milling machine maker is building its presence in China.

International Innovative Technologies (IIT), in Gateshead, has signed up to an export programme targeting the Asian country.

Fast Track China aims to support small and medium-sized firms win business in the country.

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The Newcastle-based venture was founded by Dr Zhengming Yang, a former North-East UK Trade and Investment business development manager for the China market.

The deal comes after IIT earlier this year won a £750,000 Chinese order to supply grinding equipment for a ceramic tile plant in Zibo, Shandong.

The move includes sees the factory's operator, V-tong, exclusively distributing IIT's products to China's ceramic tile industry.

Tom Wilkinson, IIT chairman, said: “The opportunities for our grinding technology in China are enormous.

“Although we’ve already had some success there, it’s notoriously difficult to overcome some of the barriers to entry and it’s for this reason that we signed-up with the new service.

“The partnership will give us a permanent presence and representation in the country, will provide a display of our products and technical capabilities, and identify realistic new sales opportunities.”

Dr Yang, Fast Track China (UK) managing director, added: “We are delighted to be working with IIT and their success in the market gives them the ideal platform to build further sales.

“China’s economic transformation is one of the defining facts of our lifetime.

“UK-made products hold a high reputation in the country and it has the potential to provide a vital export market for North East firms over the next decade.”