Dozens of business and political leaders have gathered in Lynn for a conference aimed at renewing and expanding the town’s historic trade links.
More than 80 delegates attended the inaugural Hanse Business Convention, which was held in the town’s Hanse House on Friday.
And leading figures from home and abroad were impressed by the ambition of companies in this area to cash in on the existing heritage connections.
Dr Andreas Prothmann, head of economic affairs at the German embassy in London, said: “There’s a lot of potential in reaching out to communities that once were connected, and now you find the emerging economies like the Baltic states, in addition to the more traditional trade links to countries like Germany.
“I think there’s tremendous potential there.”
Manfred Schurkamp, vice-chairman of Business Hanse Limited, said the network currently offers links to more than 180 cities in 16 European nations.
He said: “It’s a special network for the smaller companies.”
The conference offered a range of advice and support sessions for companies looking to cash in on Lynn’s links with towns and cities across the Hanse Economic area, which includes Germany, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus.
Firms from a range of sectors, including manufacturing, marketing and high technology industries, were represented at the event, which was hosted by West Norfolk Council.
Its leader, Nick Daubney, was delighted at the support shown and said many firms had shown interest in joining the business network during the event.
He said: “I rate this as a great success. I couldn’t be more pleased at what’s happened today.”
Mr Daubney, who is also Hanse commissioner for England, said that, while much was made of the need to develop trade with major developing economies such as China and India, the importance of trading closer to home should not be overlooked.
He added: “You ignore your closest neighbours’ relationships at your peril.”