19 July 2018 | By Rajesh Agrawal Community

Playing to London's strengths

How the Deputy Mayor of London for Business is backing a strong, fair and open economy in the UK’s capital

At the start of July, I embarked on my first ever trip to China. I travelled to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, meeting businesses and politicians to promote the great opportunities for investment, tourism and higher education in London. I brought with me a group of ten fast-growing London companies as part of the Mayor’s International Business Programme.

The Programme, run by our international promotions agency London & Partners, offers mentoring, expert advice and business opportunities for London companies looking to expand globally.

I was amazed by the high levels of energy, innovation and confidence I experienced throughout my five-day visit. China is our second largest investor after the US and the appetite to do more is evident.

However, the uncertainties of Brexit loomed large throughout my visit, and it was clear to me that apprehensiveness about the nature of the future UK/EU trading relationship was still having an impact.

The Mayor and I are working hard to counter these concerns, in China and around the world, by demonstrating our great confidence in London’s fundamental strengths. Through the award-winning #LondonIsOpen campaign we have showcased to the world that the capital remains as open to international talent, trade and investment as ever.

Backing business

Sadiq Khan has vowed to be the most pro-business Mayor London has ever had and while he continues to fight the capital’s corner in the Brexit negotiations, he is also backing business on several other fronts.

As well as our visit to China, Sadiq and I have joined delegations from the Mayor’s International Business Programme to Canada, the US, India and Pakistan over the past two years – forging new business links and banging the drum for London.

Sadiq has also launched a new initiative to find and develop the next generation of home-grown tech talent to meet a growing digital skills shortage in the capital, and he has published the capital’s first-ever skills strategy so we can ensure the needs of businesses are met by the workforce of the future.

In addition, he promotes diversity at every opportunity and champions gender equality by supporting initiatives to increase the number of women in senior roles.

The Mayor firmly believes that a strong economy and a fairer city should go hand in hand. Clearly, huge strides have been made in ensuring London’s businesses are fair and equal places to work over the last two years – for example, more than 1,500 employers have signed up to pay all their staff at least the London Living Wage, an increase of 50 per cent since Sadiq took office.

He’s also led by example, such as by publishing audits of the gender pay gap and the BAME pay gap at City Hall and across the GLA group of functional bodies, alongside action plans for how we’ll tackle it.

There are certainly challenging times ahead, but the Mayor and I stand ready to work with government and businesses to do all we can to ensure London and the UK can continue to prosper.

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