Following in the footsteps of David Cameron, Leeds City Region is heading to China in the most ambitious investment mission of its kind to promote the UK’s second largest economy and population centre.
The mission’s objective is to bring new Chinese investment to the region and raise the profile of the economic opportunities Leeds provides, which employs over 1.3 million people and accounts for four per cent of national GDP.
Led by Leeds and Partners and sponsored by British Airways, the delegation of businesses and universities will be supported by the Northern Ballet, UKTI, China Britain Business Council, Leeds City Region LEP, and the Lord Mayor of Leeds.
Lurene Joseph, chief executive of Leeds and Partners said:
“This mission is the start of a long-term relationship building programme to form enduring, profitable and mutually beneficial economic relationships between Leeds City Region and Chinese investors.
“There is a strong fit between the capabilities and opportunities offered by the region and the investments and trade partnerships that Chinese investors are looking for, particularly in the fields of financial and professional services and health and innovation.”
The mission will increase awareness throughout China of Leeds’ unrivalled and world-class skills in financial and professional services, and its status as a hub of expertise in these sectors.
Ms Joseph added:
“Financial and professional services account for one in ten jobs in the region and add over £7bn to the UK’s annual income.
With forecasted growth of more than 50 per cent in these sectors by 2022, the mission will enable the region to benefit from near-shoring opportunities in China’s ever opening economy.”
Chris Cummings, chief executive of the CityUK said:
“This mission will make any potential Chinese investor look seriously at locating their business in the Leeds City Region.”
The strength of Leeds’ financial and professional services underpins the city’s wider priority sectors.
Leeds City Region enjoys thriving industries in health and innovation, digital and information, manufacturing and tourism and boasts nine outstanding higher education institutions.
Simon Lea, British Airways airport manager at Leeds Bradford, said:
“This mission will put Leeds’ robust economy, rich talent pool and excellent transport connectivity in the international spotlight, making it the destination of choice for Chinese organisations looking to do business in the UK.”
The intensive programme will include investor events in Hong Kong, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing that will run alongside a series of performances from the Northern Ballet.
Northern Ballet chief executive Mark Skipper said:
“Northern Ballet is a passionate cultural ambassador for the city of Leeds and the UK.
“We are pleased to be working with Leeds and Partners to give the financial and professional services sector in the Leeds City Region an opportunity to cultivate business relationships in China.”
One of the long-term strategic goals of the mission will be realised through the creation of a China Business Club, to be launched at the International Festival for Business in June 2014.
The Club will be instrumental in sustaining the relationships forged and securing the long-term economic competitiveness of the Leeds City Region.