Readers identify obstacles both here and abroad, whether it’s missing out on incentives in east London, first-time buyers losing tax relief, or Brits trying to adapt to cultural differences in Asia

West meets East

Your article on Asian markets (25 November, page 36) was excellent. The challenge that British newcomers face in these markets cannot be overemphasised though - British professionals need to understand that the usual way of approaching business does not necessarily work in this geography.

There remain huge but sub-surface cultural differences that one must become sensible to and sensitive about - a steep learning curve - before hoping to be successful in this area.

Ish, via

The docks deserve better

The chancellor confirmed last week that 100% capital allowances will be given to six Enterprise Zones. However, this excludes East London’s Royal Docks -the UK’s top opportunity to achieve growth on a global scale. The Royal Docks offers unique benefits to investors, with £22bn of development potential and a prospective 15,000 jobs over 25 years. However, after the autumn statement there is a real risk that this key opportunity for growth, in both London and Britain, will be missed.

It is baffling and hugely disappointing that the chancellor has decided not to increase capital allowances for the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone. Without capital allowances, the zone will be of little interest to major investors and will fail to meet its potential. In the face of international competition, a greater package of incentives is required so we do not miss this golden opportunity to revive east London as a worldwide business centre.

With the right package of incentives, the Royal Docks will be a world-class business destination for the knowledge economy through the creation of a science and technology hub. The docks will become a centre of hi-tech industry and green technology, linking up research institutions to a thriving local business base. I hope the government will therefore deliver a greater package of incentives so this vision can become a reality.

Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham

No relief for home buyers

Regarding your story ‘Osborne axes stamp duty relief to help home buyers’ (29 November,, this headline makes it sound as though the cutting of stamp duty relief by Osborne is doing first time buyers a favour.

The only reason the relief has been ineffectual is that first time buyers cannot raise the 25% deposit and banks are too busy topping up their coffers for the hard times they see ahead to lend money at low interest rates to those who need it.

The stamp duty relief helped those on the cusp of affordability who now will be pushed into the ‘can’t afford it’ category, and how does this help housebuilders?

Has the chancellor thought that the reason for builders holding back on construction on their land banks is that the rise in the cost of materials now bears no resemblance to inflation, making it virtually impossible to build houses for first time buyers at a cost that is affordable, especially with the increasing level of Part L regulations?

P Freeman, via