Mayor leads top business delegation on trade mission to China

11 October 2013

Mayor Boris Johnson will lead a trade mission to China next week as part of his continued drive to create jobs and growth in the capital by promoting London to the world as a major investment destination.

The Mayor will be joined by a senior delegation representing London’s vibrant, innovative and world-leading business community during the six day trip to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. His mission to forge closer ties with the country will see him meeting with business leaders, key investors and senior politicians from China, which is now the world’s second largest economy, worth an estimated $8.2 trillion.

As the recent £1 billion deal announced by Chinese developer ABP to redevelop the historic Royal Albert Dock and the £500 million investment by ZhongRong Group to rebuild The Crystal Palace demonstrate, confidence in the capital after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is strong. And with record numbers of Chinese tourists and students choosing London as their destination of choice, the Mayor wants to continue to build on the exposure of 2012 and promote areas that are of vital interest to London's economy.

These include financial and professional services; engineering and infrastructure; transport; higher education; tourism and retail; health and life sciences; digital/tech and creative industries; environment and sustainability.

During the trip he will meet with the Mayor of Beijing, the China Investment Corporation, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and with representatives of leading Chinese companies such as Dalian Wanda Group, which is making a £700m investment into the Nine Elms area between Vauxhall and Battersea. He will also pay a visit to Peking University along with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, who is also visiting Beijing. The Mayor and the Chancellor will share a platform, and both will deliver speeches to the students at the University. The Mayor and the Chancellor will take part in a joint Question and Answer session on UK China relations, and the investment, tourism and educational opportunity that exists between London and China.

In Hong Kong he will visit Hong Kong International Airport. Built on reclaimed land and designed and engineered by leading London-based architects Foster + Partners and Arup, the Mayor will see what the capital can learn from Hong Kong’s experience of a 24-hour hub airport that carried more than 50 million people last year. He will also meet with the Chief Executive of Hong Kong and give a keynote speech to the British Chamber of Commerce and around 700 invited guests.

The Mayor is also keen for London to capitalise on the fact that the Chinese currency, the Renminbi (RMB), is becoming an increasingly important global currency. He is supporting the Government’s drive to forge greater links with Hong Kong - the major offshore Renminbi trading hub – and wants to see London cement its reputation as the key Western hub for the RMB market.

The Mayor will be joined by a delegation of the capital’s top business leaders from key sectors such as retail, financial and investment services, property development, construction and design. The delegation consists of: Marc Bolland, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer; Gerry Grimstone, Chairman, Standard Life; Thomas Heatherwick, CBE, Founder of Heatherwick Studio; Sir Michael Hintze, Founder, Chief Executive and Senior Investment Officer, CQS; Justin King CBE, Chief Executive, Sainsbury’s; Tony Pidgley, CBE, Chairman, The Berkeley Group.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "China's recent economic growth is nothing short of staggering and the opportunities that this presents for London are huge. As China moves on to its next stage of development there's massive potential for London businesses to export their expertise and to set up shop in this economic powerhouse. We are a city that is open for business and with 33 opportunity areas dotted around the capital there is enormous scope for Chinese investors to get involved, helping to create jobs and growth in the process.

"I'm delighted to welcome some of Britain's most influential business people on board and the delegation and I will be taking every chance we can to promote London as the best big city to invest in. The ties between London and China have grown strong over many hundreds of years - this trip aimed at making that bond even stronger."

The Chinese economy has effectively doubled in size every eight years and in 2009 overtook Germany to become the world’s largest exporter. Recognising this swift pace of growth, the British and Chinese Governments have set a target of doubling trade between the two countries to $100 billion by 2015.

With London already accounting for 60 per cent of all foreign direct investment from China into the UK, this presents huge opportunities for the capital as it seeks to attract vital inward investment and to export goods, services and talent in a huge range of sectors.

Notes to editors

1. The visit to China is part of a series of trips that the Mayor is undertaking to key overseas markets, including the Gulf region and India, both of which he visited in the last 12 months. The aim of the visits is to attract foreign investment, promote export, create jobs in the capital ensuring London’s status as a leading global city, boosting cultural ties and building on the huge exposure London received as a result of hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

2. Since the late 1970s China has experienced a strong period of rapid, sustained economic growth – averaging almost 10% a year over the last 30 years. In 2010 the country overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy, behind the United States. It is expected to become the world largest goods importer by 2014.

3. London is the number one capital city for Chinese investment outside Asia over the last decade. It is the leading European capital for Chinese investment, and the world leader for corporate subsidiary HQs outside their own nation. In 2012, Chinese investment in Britain rose to $4billion, up 80% from 2011. London attracts 60% of all FDI projects from China into the UK. London also accounted for 80 per cent of all Chinese property investment in Europe over the past five years.

4. More Chinese tourists visited London than ever before last year – 104,000. That is up 28% from 2011 and up 100% since 2009. Visitors spent £140 million, up 60% from 2011, and up 150% since 2009.

5. The number of Chinese people studying in London is also rising. It reached a record 15,000 last year, up by 12% from the year before. China remains London’s #1 market for international students, with numbers rising by 149% over the past 5 years. London has a bigger concentration of elite universities than any other major global city.

6. The Mayoral trips are supported by his promotional organisation London & Partners. London & Partners is the official promotional organisation for London. Our company attracts and delivers value to business, students and visitors. London & Partners is a not-for-profit public private partnership, funded by the Mayor of London and a network of commercial partners. Please visit www.londonandpartners.com for more information.