A keynote speech on Birmingham’s relationship with China is set to be delivered by Council Leader Sir Albert Bore during a high-profile event in Brussels later today (June 29).
He will address an audience including EU President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership Forum 2015.
The partnership was established in 2012 to promote exchanges and co-operation on a wide range of sustainable urban development initiatives given the fact that Chinese urbanisation had crossed the highly-symbolic 50 per cent threshold during the previous year.
At the forum, a host of topics are due to be discussed including sustainable urban mobility, an issue relevant here through the Birmingham Connected integrated transport strategy. Also on the agenda were other matters including climate change and the Smart Cities agenda.
During his speech, Sir Albert will reflect on three formal sister city relationships that Birmingham has with Changchun (established in 1983) and Nanjing and Guangzhou – both of which celebrate their tenth anniversaries next year.
He is expected to say: “These relationships, whilst always established with one eye on investment opportunities, have, in the main, been sustained by a wide range of municipal and academic exchanges.
“Amongst a number of examples I could provide, the flagship exchange programme is the one with Guangzhou where for eight years now Birmingham has hosted between 20-40 Chinese Civil Servants, who each year spend four weeks in our city sharing their time between an academic programme provided by the University of Birmingham and practical placements in relevant Birmingham City Council municipal departments.
“The fact that this has be running now for eight years I suspect is evidence of how beneficial our partners in Guangzhou value this exchange.”
Sir Albert will also reference work carried out by the city council and its partners to develop strong relationships with the likes of Changan Motors and the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.
He is expected to conclude: “I would also highlight that there is an exciting future ahead with regards to growth and investment potential in Birmingham.
“We have spent a very successful 25 years restructuring our local economy and diversifying our economic potential as a city. We are no longer reliant on the automotive sector although it remains a key strength.
“Our future plans include Birmingham being home to the new High Speed 2 base and college and will be an important new hub that with connect Birmingham to London in just 40 minutes.
“We have a thriving tech sector and are developing a new environmental district and new life sciences campus. Whilst our record and history of working with China is a good one, looking forward, there is a huge sense of excitement and recognition that Birmingham is becoming the UK’s number 1 investment location.
“So in conclusion, my core message is simple. Relationships between European and Chinese cities can reap long lasting and sustainable benefits as has been witnessed through our longstanding relationships with Changchun, Nanjing and Guangzhou.
“Building on from this, the future opportunities to enhance existing relationships and develop new investment partnerships are significant and my message to you all is that Birmingham is the best placed UK city to do this and is open for business.”
Notes to editors
Key statistics on Birmingham’s economic performance include:
– Figures released by UKTI on 19 June 2015 announced that Greater Birmingham attracted investment from more foreign business in 2014/15 than any other British region.
– Birmingham has also attracted more Chinese investment than any other UK regional city since 2003 including 23 significant investments in the last 5 years creating or safeguarding over 1,400 jobs.
– Our region is the only UK region to have a trade surplus with China (£2.76billion)
– Birmingham is the first UK city outside of London to have secured direct flights to China.
– Approximately 5,000 Chinese university students study in one of Birmingham’s 5 universities each year.
– And finally Birmingham was ranked as the UK’s most investable city, and 6th in Europe, by international estate agents the Urban Land Institute/PwC.
For more media information please contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621