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Greater Birmingham’s ambition will help drive post-Brexit prosperity, says PM

Greater Birmingham’s ambition will help drive post-Brexit prosperity, says PM

🕔05.Oct 2016

Collaborative and ambitious projects being delivered by council and business partnerships across Birmingham and the West Midlands will help drive a post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ towards economic prosperity, Theresa May has said.

The Prime Minister, speaking at a Tory conference fringe event, gave a strong indication that the Government will continue to press forward with its devolution plans for city regions.

Mrs May told the meeting, organised by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) that empowering cities like Birmingham was vital in “building an economy that works for everyone”.

She added:

We need to be backing innovation, helping our educational establishments to grow their ideas and inventions into real life businesses.

That means having a proper industrial strategy and supporting not only the sectors that are traditionally successful, but also those that are up and coming – the innovators and disruptors who will be the JLRs and JCBs of tomorrow.

And it means trading with the world and seizing all the opportunities that are opening up to us as we exit from the EU.

Mrs May highlighted the UK-Qatar Trade and Investment Conference, which will be held in Birmingham next year, as a strong signal of the confidence showed by foreign investors in the city and the wider region.

The conference is seen by Ministers as an important opportunity to strike post-Brexit trading agreements with wealthy Arabian Gulf countries.

Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, writing in The Peninsular, a Qatar daily newspaper, said:

For the UK, the Gulf is a major trading partner. In 2015, UK exports stood at over £20 billion, more than China and twice as much as exports from India.

We see increasing business with the Gulf as an essential part of our international strategy which includes future new free trade agreements, and Qatar will continue be an important partner for the UK.

Dr Fox insisted the UK was not leaving Europe, but “re-joining the rest of the world”. He added:

For the UK, Qatar is an important part of that journey and I am delighted that the Government and businesses in Qatar share that vision.

The major UK/Qatar trade and investment conference which we will hold in the UK early in 2017 will be an important moment in delivering this shared ambition. I am sure that it will be a huge success, strengthen significantly our economic and trade links, and demonstrate to the world that -as the people of Qatar know – the UK is open for business like never before.

Mrs May praised GBSLEP and highlighted the latest Office for National Statistics report showing  a 2.2 per cent economic uplift and an additional 18,600 jobs in the GBSLEP area in 2015. She added:

With 600 businesses supported, and 17,000 people helped into employment, the GBSLEP is a great example of what can be done when you have vision and go out there and help your area.

Attendees at the event also heard how the Midlands was attracting global talent by focusing on developing key sectors, whilst harnessing the potential of the huge infrastructure projects such as HS2, UK Central, Curzon and Smithfield in Birmingham and the Friarsgate development in Lichfield.

Steve Hollis, Chair of the GBSLEP, said:

We’re attracting global talent as we shape our sector thinking in areas such as advanced manufacturing and life sciences – at the heart of this is unlocking more jobs and more growth.

The successes we have achieved have been underpinned by the strength of our partnership working – and by building on this collaboration between businesses, academic and the public sectors we can fully realise our ambition of being the top global city region by 2030.

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