Over the last decade, the UK has been a top tier recipient of Chinese investment. Last year the government announced £30bn of deals where Chinese capital would be investing in the UK.
The aim of the discussion is to further understand Chinese interest in, and its relationship with, the North of England, and to explore the key challenges and opportunities to better promote this region to potential foreign investors.
Phil Dyer, Atkins’ director for the Northern Powerhouse, said: "The north-east is full of attractive opportunities for Chinese investors. China is already investing here and we want to help build on that enthusiasm. The conversations we are having through these workshops mean we can now help developers prepare the best and most attractive opportunities to our investor community in China."
The discussion, organised and hosted by Atkins and Invest Newcastle, with support from Invest North East England, saw attendees identify and debate a wide range of issues, including the opportunities devolution offers, and what Brexit means for the area.
Catherine Walker, inward investment director at Invest Newcastle, a service delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: "Newcastle is becoming increasingly attractive to foreign investors. Now is the time to identify a strategic approach, allowing us to secure international private sector investment to launch and accelerate key projects. The roundtable was a fantastic first step in bringing together key businesses and stakeholders in Newcastle, and the wider North East, to deliver a unified message and strong proposition of investment opportunities.
"We’re working to continue this momentum through our attendance at MIPIM 2017 where we will be joined by at least 20 private sector businesses – showcasing to the global property and investor market the opportunities Newcastle has to offer."
Bill Huang, director of Chinese investor relations, Atkins, said: "Our discussion in the North East was another fantastic opportunity to gather valuable feedback and intelligence which I will be able to take to influential clients in China. The North East is already well known for Japanese investment, with Nissan being the area’s largest private employer. We need to build on this success and broaden the appeal to other global investors to achieve future infrastructure goals."
The North East is the second in a series of debates, which are also planned to take place in Tees Valley, Manchester and Cumbria.
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