THE Prime Minister has urged investors from south-east Asia to plough money into the cities of northern England and called on them to “look at Britain in a new way”.
David Cameron has been joined on a UK trade delegation to Singapore by Business Secretary Sajid Javid and representatives from a number of firms and civic leaders from northern cities including Leeds Council leader Judith Blake.
He called for foreign investors to consider opportunities in the “Northern Powerhouse” rather than just London.
Speaking at Unilever’s base in Singapore, Mr Cameron told potential investors: “I really would encourage you to look at Britain in a new way. There’s plenty of investment opportunities, of course, in London and the South East - London, this amazing global city - but look again at the North.
“We want to rebalance our country and we want Singaporean and other south-east Asian investors to help us do it. That is what the Northern Powerhouse is all about.”
Coun Blake joined the trade mission with the council’s chief economic development officer Tom Bridges.
They are part of a large group of UK business leaders, including a representative of the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, hoping to capitalise on the opportunity to expand economic links with South East Asia.
It follows a recent announcement that a Singapore-based consortium, led by Heeton Holdings, has acquired a prime 2.45 acre development site in Leeds off Regent Street and New York Road. The Leeds delegation has met representatives of the company during the trip.
Coun Blake said: “This is a rare opportunity to meet key business leaders and investors from the other side of the world - including one company that have recently invested in a major development site in Leeds - to really raise our game in international economic links.
“By building partnerships we are hoping to tap into in a vastly-expanding economic market to build trade links and further attract South East Asian investment. This in turn should widen opportunity for local businesses and create employment for people in our city.”
Mr Javid, who was born in Rochdale, said: “As someone who originally hails from the North and who has worked in Singapore, it is almost with a sense of deja-vu that I find myself leading the first ever Northern Powerhouse trade delegation to South East Asia.
“Since the days of the industrial revolution, the North of England has been a driving force of the UK economy. Now home to 600,000 businesses, 17 million people and fantastic infrastructure, the potential for growth and regeneration within the North is immense.
“We want the Northern Powerhouse to become a global powerhouse.”