A £50m deal could be secured by a North East firm that accompanied Government representatives on a trade mission to Kazakhstan.
Newcastle-based Kilfrost, recognised as a global leader in de-icing products, was part of a 30-strong delegation visiting the country with Prime Minister David Cameron and trade and investment minister Lord Green, to boost trade links and secure agreements worth £700m to British companies.
While there, chief executive Gary Lydiate was due to sign a memorandum of understanding with the mayor of the city of Astana, potentially worth £50m over the coming five years.
“We have a positive history of trading with Kazakhstan spanning over 15 years,” he said. “This visit marks the obvious next step in this relationship and is an important milestone in Kilfrost’s international growth plans.”
Founded in Whitley Bay in the 1930s, the family-owned Kilfrost’s first de-icers were used to clear football pitches, including Newcastle’s United’s St James’ Park.
It then moved on to defrosting products for the Royal Air Force, British Rail and Arctic-bound ships.
With the outbreak of the war, Kilfrost expanded and, by the 1960s, had created a number of new anti-icing products for car engines.
The 1990s, then, saw it launch a successful runway de-icer, and today it exports its products to more than 60 countries on five continents.
With bases in the USA and China, it supplies a third of the world’s aircraft de-icing fluid.
Another Newcastle company, BEL Valves, also had a representative on the visit, which ended yesterday.
The firm designs and manufactures high integrity valves for critical oil and gas applications for the North Sea and export markets, Kazakhstan being a particularly strong focus.
Well established in the region, it was highlighted as a success story because of its work with its service partner there, Kulsary Gas.
BEL Valves sales and marketing director Michael Ridley said: “We were delighted to have been invited to participate in the delegation.
“Having been actively supplying oil and gas valves to the Caspian for over 13 years, it’s been good to share some of our experiences and the success that we have had in establishing a local partner in the region.”
According to the UK Government, improved trade links with Kazakhstan could secure contracts worth billions of pounds to UK companies in the coming years.
The trip, though, has been controversial, with Mr Cameron being accused by some of putting economic ties with a mineral rich nation ahead of concerns over human rights abuses – a subject he addressed yesterday with President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Lord Green said: “Kazakhstan is emerging as the dominant economy in central Asia and offers many opportunities for British businesses, small and large, across a wide variety of sectors.
“This first-ever visit by a UK Prime Minister demonstrates our commitment to strengthen the trade and investment links between our two countries.
“I am delighted that Kilfrost has secured new business in Kazakhstan and I wish them every success.”