Huge Chinese province asks Liverpool city region firms for help

More than 20 Merseyside companies will join a trade mission to Yunnan Province in October, Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor tells YBNews. Tony McDonough reports.

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Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor, Cllr Gary Millar

A major Chinese city region is set to draw on the expertise of more than 20 Merseyside firms as it embarks on a regeneration drive.

Kunming is the capital and largest city in Yunnan Province in the south west of the country.

In October, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Wirral Council leader Phil Davies, will lead a private sector delegation to the province in what could prove to be a lucrative trade mission for firms from across the Liverpool city region.

Asking the experts

Cllr Gary Millar, Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor and Mayoral Lead for Business and International Trade, has just returned from a whistle-stop tour of China and Taiwan.

He told YBNews that senior officials in Kunming are keen to draw on the expertise of Merseyside companies.

“This is just one province in China and it is as big as the UK – the opportunities here for Liverpool city region firms are huge.

“Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, has around 10m people and it used to be a huge industrial zone with factories making rubber, petrochemicals, tobacco products and many other things.

“However, partly because of the green agenda, many of those industries have now left and they want to develop and grow in sectors such as digital and creative and professional services – and they want our help to do that.”

Impressed by Liverpool

Cllr Millar said that officials from the province had visited Liverpool in recent months, attending the International Festival for Business 2016 in June, and had been impressed by the scale of regeneration the city had undergone in recent years.

Among the companies that will be joining the trade mission in October will be Baltic Creative CIC and Elevator Studios – both instrumental in transforming old warehouses in Liverpool’s Baltic district into thriving hubs of activity.

Liverpool Assistant Mayor, Cllr Gary Millar, meets with officials in the Chinese city of Kunming
Liverpool Assistant Mayor, Cllr Gary Millar, meets with officials in the Chinese city of Kunming

“We should be proud of the expertise and knowledge we have acquired in Liverpool over the last few years.

“Kunming wants to draw on that expertise and I have told them that if they want it they are going to have to pay for it.”

Football crazy

Another area the province is seeking help with is in football coaching and infrastructure.

This, says Cllr Millar, offers an opportunity for Mersey firms such as Red Sports, run by former Liverpool FC star Mark Wright, and Little League Sports.

Accompanying Cllr Millar on his latest trip was Paul Grover, an executive from the Liverpool office of construction giant Arup. His company is interested in helping the Chinese develop news sports stadia.

“Kunming loves us,” said Cllr Millar. “Right now we are at the table and no one else is.”

During his trip Cllr Millar also visited the Chinese regions of Shandong and the Dalian Jinpu New Area, as well as Kaohsiung City, Taiwan’s second-biggest city.

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