The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, welcomes pledges from ten Chinese businesses who have committed to office space in the much anticipated £1bn Asian Business Port development in London’s Royal Albert Dock. This takes the number of firms currently set to move into the new business park to 57, and is expected to account for around 600,000 sq ft of the development.
The latest ten firms include electrical manufacturers, commercial real-estate, water conservancy, educational training and fashion and textiles firms. Speaking at a meeting with ABP chairman Mr Xu Weiping in Beijing, on day three of his six day trade mission to China, the Mayor also discussed plans to work with the UK government to revamp Enterprise Zone business incentives for the Royal Docks. In 2015 the current benefits are up for review, and the Mayor wants them extended to encourage even more Asian businesses to locate themselves in London’s historic docklands, creating an eastern trading hub in the capital.
The ABP deal with the Mayor, announced in May, will make the Royal Docks London’s third business district and, according to initial projections, be worth £6bn to the UK economy, generating £23m in business rates annually and acting as a catalyst for further development in the area. Despite the global downturn, China’s economy has grown by eight per cent between 2008 and 2012, and is a key market for UK exports. The Mayor’s aim is to reinstate the Royal Docks as a commercial heartland in the capital, creating a strategic trading hub with Asia, and delivering around 20,000 full-time jobs and boosting local employment in Newham by 30 per cent.
The Mayor is exploring a number of measures with the government which would make it easier and cheaper both for Asian businesses to set up and trade internationally from the Royal Docks and for UK companies to export and access Asian and other non-EU markets.
• Making it easier and cheaper to move staff and goods between the Royal Docks and outside the EU
• Changes to the visa process and a dedicated support team to welcome talent to the UK and make it easier to do business with non EU countries
• Tax relief on exports from UK companies located in the Royal Docks
• Fast-tracking UK Intellectual Property applications for patents, copyright, designs and trademarks, which typically take three or four years, for companies with existing IP in China or elsewhere
As an existing Enterprise Zone, the area already offers reduced business rates, a simpler planning process, and superfast broadband. The ABP deal is one of several overseen by the Mayor to deliver a raft of regeneration in the area. The Siemens Crystal Centre, the UK’s first urban cable car, Emirates Air Line and new homes at Great Eastern Quay, as well as a £1.5bn new innovation quarter at Silvertown Quays and plans to create the UK’s largest floating village at Royal Victoria Dock are all bringing jobs and homes back to the capital’s waterways. The area is already one of the most connected in the capital, with London City Airport, the Docklands Light Railway, and the cable car on the doorstep. With Crossrail on the way in 2018 it will soon benefit from direct access to central and western London as well.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “London’s Royal Docks, historically the throbbing arteries of UK trade and commerce, present a huge opportunity which I’m determined to capitalise on. My vision is to develop a world class international business district, creating local jobs and growth and strengthening trade between east and west. Today, as we welcome the commitment of 10 businesses to the Asian Business Park, we are another step closer to achieving this.”
Today, Mr Xu Weiping also announced plans for ABP to host a unique trade event to link suppliers and buyers from Britain and China at London’s Excel Centre next summer. Several hundred Chinese businesses will be invited to demonstrate their products in a workshop style environment. Already popular in China this would be a first event of its kind and scale in London.
Chairman of ABP, Mr Xu Weiping, said: “I am delighted to welcome the Mayor of London to China. We have worked closely together to make the £1bn Royal Albert Dock development a reality. Following discussions in London a month ago and the announcement of our new Global Headquarters, I am very pleased the Mayor is in Beijing to meet businesses here and encourage them to make their home in the Royal Docks.”
Last month Mr Xu also announced he would be locating his new ABP Global headquarters in London, and the company is now recruiting for senior staff including a Global CEO.