Mr Hammond goes to China

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Over the years, Manchester has seen significant levels of EU investment into the city, ranging from Metrolink upgrades and the building of innovative science parks, to university research and city-centre regeneration projects. MediaCityUK, the Soapworks and Citylabs have all benefited from EU funds. Last week however, the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, Sir Howard Bernstein, outlined the costs and investment streams at risk following the vote to leave the EU. This includes the European Regional Development Fund, worth £300 million and the Northern Powerhouse Fund, worth £180 million.

The loss of EU funding will certainly present concerns to foreign investors who once saw the UK as a gateway to the rest of Europe, and the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, will have a job on his hands to calm the nerves of said investors whilst reaffirming that the UK is an ideal location for foreign investment in the wake of Brexit. The Chancellor has certainly made a steady start, and in the same week that he’s been in China trying to sign trade agreements, it was announced that Sheffield will receive £220 million of investment from one of China’s largest construction firms, which to date is the largest cash pledge of its kind.

This ground-breaking deal is expected to fund city-centre projects and create potentially thousands of jobs in the Steel City. Perhaps this is good news for the Bernstein / Leese deputation who have flown to China in an attempt to secure additional investment into Manchester and to keep the wheels of the Northern Powerhouse turning.

Chinese investment was always key to George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse, especially in Manchester with Middlewood Locks and Airport City. If Philip Hammond wants to achieve growth and economic success, he will need to continue to strike trade deals and investment packages that will benefit Northern cities. The new PM and Chancellor have been quick to emphasise their commitment to the North, with press briefings suggesting they would focus on spreading benefits beyond the North West. The Sheffield deal may be a sign of this Government’s commitment to spreading the impact as widely as possible. City leaders across the North will regard it as a good start, but many more deals will have to be arranged. For now though, it’s a welcome boost for those hoping for business as usual in post-Brexit Britain.

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