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Foreign investors shrug off Brexit blues to fuel Greater Birmingham trade boom

Foreign investors shrug off Brexit blues to fuel Greater Birmingham trade boom

🕔02.Sep 2016

Significant investment by foreign businesses in Greater Birmingham & Solihull has driven a 188 per cent increase in projects since 2011, according to the latest figures from the Department for International Trade.

Despite the pre-EU referendum unease of investors,  the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) attracted 81 new FDI projects and created and safeguarded 5,176 jobs in 2015-16, an increase of 86 per cent from 2011-12.

In the wider West Midlands region 11,119 new jobs were created, more than any other region outside London.

Both GBSLEP and Birmingham city council are insisting that Britain’s exit from the European Union will bring opportunities as well as threats and have spoken of the need to redouble efforts to attract investment from new foreign markets.

Recent investors included global brands such as American-owned software provider Advanced, Chinese automotive manufacturer Changan and American civil engineering firm Jacobs Engineering.

Foreign investment into the GBSLEP area was predominantly driven by the advanced manufacturing sector which represented 31 per cent of all projects. This was closely followed by the IT, creative and digital sector with 23 per cent and by business, professional and financial services (BPFS) at 15 per cent.

All three sectors have been heavily targeted as part of the region’s strategy to diversify its economy and create the greatest employment opportunities for the local workforce.

US firms were the most prominent investors, accounting for 32 per cent of all projects. These include Jacobs Engineering, which expanded its business in Birmingham with a new office on Colmore Square in the city centre’s business district in autumn 2015.

Another leading brand, Advanced, one of the largest UK business software providers, also chose Greater Birmingham as its key location. In part, due to the region’s status as having one of the UK’s best performing digital economies, with more than 6,000 firms, including a range of innovative SMEs, delivering £1.6 billion to the local economy.

Incoming firms have cited Greater Birmingham’s transport links, affordable space and strong talent pool as major draws.

Andy Street, Chair of the GBSLEP, commented:

The figures released today show an impressive increase in businesses and jobs over the last five years in the GBSLEP area. This has only been possible through private and public organisations working closely together through collaboration and partnership, which we will continue to build on in the year ahead.

Greater Birmingham is constantly evolving and has transformed itself into a globally recognised business destination for companies across a range of industries.

We have a world-class reputation for attracting and retaining investors from across the globe and we will continue to offer the best possible support package and incentives to potential investors. Greater Birmingham offers businesses a highly skilled workforce, vibrant business community and excellent access to the rest of the UK and internationally.

We must however acknowledge for some business sectors that pre-referendum uncertainty created a slowdown in activity, still I believe the city region is in a strong position to continue to grow.  We must seize opportunities that will arise with a new PM and Cabinet now in place.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of inward investment agency, Marketing Birmingham, commented:

Post-Brexit we need to refocus our efforts to ensure we continue to attract investment from foreign markets.

The region has firmly established itself as the UK’s driver of growth, fostering centres of excellence in business, professional and financial services, and leading the country’s traditional sectors – such as advanced manufacturing and engineering – to be among the best in Europe.

The region’s robust growth strategy, critical mass of talent, and unprecedented investment in physical infrastructure and connectivity make it better placed than other parts of the UK – and this will put it in good stead to remain an attractive proposition for inward investment.

We must continue this momentum and therefore it’s welcome news that the Midlands region now plans to work much more closely together to attract further foreign direct investment.

Joining forces with the Midlands’ LEPs and the Department for International Trade here in Birmingham will allow us all to collaborate more closely with public and private sector bodies across the region, ensuring we maintain a strong pipeline of investment interest.

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