Nottingham and its sister city of Ningbo in China has today (26 February 2016) reached an historic deal to become the first UK and Chinese city-to-city places to embark on a five year agreement to develop closer trade, civic, cultural and educational ties. It forms part of the Nottingham’s ambition to be the UK’s most China-friendly city.

This is the first time China has agreed a cooperative plan anywhere in the world.

The Nottingham – Ningbo deal was struck at a UK and China Government to Government conference (called JETCO)  hosted in Birmingham by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid, MP.

Building on the pioneering work of the University of Nottingham, which established a China Campus in Ningbo over a decade ago, Nottingham aims to become the UK’s most China friendly city and both the UK and Chinese Governments see Nottingham and Ningbo as leading the way in joint city-to-city working, with the Chinese Government keen to hold the close relationship between the two cities as a shining example it wants other Chinese cities to replicate.

UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, said: “Today’s visit by Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng to Birmingham is a great opportunity to showcase the Midlands as an engine for growth and investment. The UK is the leading destination for Chinese businesses bringing economic and jobs benefits not only to the Midlands but to the UK as a whole.”

The Nottingham – Ningbo five year plan, which follows hot off the heels of President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to the UK in October, will seek to increase and promote mutual investment and trade opportunities between the two cities.  The deal includes:

  • Funding to establish trade and investment offices in Nottingham and Ningbo to support economic objectives. Working alongside and in collaboration with The University of Nottingham’s award-winning Asia Business Centre.
  • Initiatives to help Midlands firms establish trade and export opportunities in China and attract further Chinese firms to Nottingham to help create job opportunities for local people.
  • Special support services developed to enable both business communities to more easily establish bases in Nottingham and Ningbo.
  • Support will be given to Nottingham students to access courses/internships in Ningbo (and vice versa), more sister school opportunities to be created to build on a number of Nottingham schools which are already linked to counterparts in Ningbo, and the development of opportunities for Nottingham pupils to learn Mandarin.
  • Civic, cultural and sporting ties expanded to include strong links and collaboration between Ningbo’s Micro Film business park and Nottingham’s Micro Film businesses. It’s hoped the agreement will lead to Chinese film companies using talent from Nottingham’s growing creative, digital and tech industries to make innovative new microfilms.
  • Opportunities for Nottingham’s sporting teams to establish links with Ningbo, including establishing summer schools and vice versa; building on an initial link with Nottingham Forest and to support Nottingham to become the UK’s capital for China’s national sport – Table Tennis.

The deal will further strengthen cultural links between the two cities which will see events to celebrate Christmas in Ningbo and plans to expand celebrations of Chinese New Year in Nottingham – with the city already having one of the largest Chinese student populations in the UK which brings nearly £130m of benefit to the East Midlands economy.

Vice mayor Wang of Ningbo Municipal Government said: “The first Five Year Plan between Nottingham and Ningbo is the first cooperative plan not only between the Uk and China but between China and anywhere else in the world. It identifies the direction for further cooperation in economics, education, culture, and so on. It will enrich the cooperation between UK and China at the beginning of the ‘golden era’. I believe that the relationship will definitely get enhanced and become even stronger and ultimately benefits the citizens from both Ningbo and Nottingham”

Councillor Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “This plan really puts Nottingham at the front when it comes to creating stronger trade and investment links on a city-to-city basis in China.”

“Our existing relationship with Ningbo has already created a number of benefits – this agreement will take it to another level.”

University of Nottingham Pro-Vice Chancellor for Advancement, and former Provost for the University of Nottingham Ningbo, Professor Nick Miles OBE said: “We are delighted the relationship between our sister cities of Nottingham and Ningbo continues to go from strength-to-strength. Hosting the Nottingham Trade and Investment Office on our Campus in Ningbo is a perfect example of the role played by the University in providing a bridge for talent, ideas and prosperity between the UK and China.”

Reacting to the news of the historic deal which Nottingham and Ningbo have reached, David Pearson, Head of International Trade at East Midlands Chamber, said: “China is an economic powerhouse, which makes getting more UK-manufactured products into this highly-lucrative market of paramount importance if we are to stand any chance of creating the export-led economy that will drive future growth.

“The Chamber has been working closely with Nottingham City Council to support it in developing its strategy in Ningbo. There is a real buzz around the delegation that came over from China that Nottingham and Ningbo are doing something special.

“Opportunities are out there for firms of all sizes and we would urge any businesses which either already export to China, or are considering it, to take advantage of the trading links this new arrangement will create.”