Manchester City Council

A Sense of Perspective

A few days in China doesn't half help put the relevance of the northern powerhouse concept into perspective. The North of England has around 15million residents, it's major cities, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield ( including their whole city region areas ) 10million. If you draw a triangle with Newcastle, Sheffield, and Liverpool as its corners, the land area covered is less than that by the cities of Beijing or Shanghai on their own. Chongqing's 30million people live in a city the size of Austria.

On the other hand, if you look at the economy of the North of England, at £290b per annum GVA, it is larger than that of Denmark or Sweden. Premier League football is a great door opener here, but though everybody seems to know about Manchester City and Manchester United, they don't in general know much more about our city, and we are pretty tiny compared to even medium size Chinese cities. If we succeed in getting the transport investment we want over the next ten to fifteen years to get the sort of connectivity that we want between the northern cities - connectivity that will help us create the virtual super city of the North, then as a virtual city of 10million people, a city bigger than London, we begin to register.

All five city Leaders have been here this week and we are finding that working together to promote economic opportunity across the North is getting a real return. So far we have presented to a number of high-level business audiences in Beijing and Shanghai, and this afternoon we will do so in Chengdu, a city of 12million plus in China's south west, and a part of China that continues to have double digit growth.

I have regularly argued that Manchester's future, like its past, is as an international city, and to be that we have to promote ourselves internationally, both for trade and investment. Being here is already having an impact with major companies we have met here already seeking appointments to meet us in Manchester before I've even left. We've had a number of recent examples of Chinese investment in the city, the most recent relating to Middlewood Locks in Salford. There is plenty of room for a few more.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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