TEN Japanese chemicals firms will be looking to forge new business opportunities with the North-East's chemicals industry during a trade mission next week.

The trip aims to showcase the North-East's world-class strengths in the field with visits to leading companies SSL International, of Peterlee, Rhodia Pharma, of Cramlington and Longbenton-based Novocastra.

The delegation will also visit Avecia Biologics in Billingham.

Organisers claim the North-East's world-class supply chain and infrastructure will represent an attractive proposition for Japanese firms looking to expand into the UK.

The region's chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries account for £7.5bn of the UK's gross domestic product, boasting 200 firms in these sectors and supporting more than 100,000 jobs.

Visits to the firms on Monday will be followed by the chance for 35 North-East companies to meet with the Japanese delegation at a networking event at Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.