As we move towards exiting the EU it is more important than ever that we look to build strong trade relationships around the world. Export trade and global collaboration is a vital contributor to the city’s ongoing competitiveness. Per job, the value of the city’s exports is almost 50% higher than the national average, making it a top 10 city for export value.

As one of the Council’s 50 pledges, the Council has been developing trading relationships with China and India over the last two years.

In November 2016 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between our city and Hefei in China, setting out our aspiration to work on economic development projects, tourism, culture, sporting and education initiatives.

There has been much progress made since then. Next month a delegation of schools will visit Hefei. Representatives from five schools, Chellaston Academy, Derbymoor, Griffe Field Primary, Parkview Primary and Redwood Academy will go on a proposed seven day trip. This will consist of familiarisation in Shanghai and Hefei, an Education conference hosted by Hefei Education Bureau, visits to their partner schools to get to know each other, and the forming formal links. The anticipated outcome is the forming of the four year partnership agreements, and student exchanges and joint projects during those years and beyond, where students from both sides can spend as much time together as possible.

In November Derby will join up with the Midlands Engine partner cities in leading a business delegation to attend the China International Industrial Fair. This is one of the world’s largest manufacturing Expo’s with over 150,000 visitors every year

Elsewhere, we are in discussions with the Hefei government over investment in projects such as the new swimming pool and performance venue. By November a Chinese ‘Liaison Officer’ should be appointed to work in Hefei to represent Derby and Derbyshire.

In India, we will be making contact with several satellite cities near Kolkata and Bangalore, with the aim of creating a similar economic development partnership to that of Hefei. We have also held meetings with the Deputy High Commissioner of India, a business seminar on investing in the Indian market and a meeting with Leicester and Nottingham City Councils on the possibility of joint working to benefit these and other international partnerships.

Councillor Martin Rawson, Deputy Leader of Derby City Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration of the Economy said:

“There are a range of benefits to exploring these markets and making global connections. Firstly we hope to increase visitors to Derby, generating income and jobs. Secondly, the University of Derby hope to increase the numbers of international students, with the aim of increasing Chinese students from 70 to 500 in the next three years.

“And finally, this work vastly increases our potential to bring in investment from Chinese and Indian companies and also to create opportunities for Derby companies in new markets, creating jobs in Derby as a result. “