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December 2016

Why India is important for strong regional economies post-Brexit UK - A Manchester perspective

Categories: India

Andrew Cowan, Chairman, Manchester-India Partnership
CEO, Manchester Airport

As we look at how the region will trade post Brexit, developing strong links with the world’s high growth markets is of paramount importance and, with that in mind, India presents a significant opportunity for Manchester. 

India is the fastest growing global market and is the world’s seventh largest economy by GDP. The UK is the also the seventh largest investor into India and that investment is expected to grow by £2bn over the next five years. So, it is clear what the size of the prize is.

Manchester has always been forward-thinking in terms of its economic and social development and that is no different when it comes to ensuring it has the post possible relationship with this global economic powerhouse.

MIP has not been created overnight, it is the product of two years’ work to forge ties between our city and India and we have already seen some of the benefits of that work come through. For example, 10 Indian companies have invested in Manchester in the last three years, creating more than 100 jobs. 

MIP is about taking this relationship to the next level and maximising the benefits both Manchester and India can derive from closer collaboration. 

As a city, we do have experience of this kind of partnership, having launched the Manchester-China Forum back in 2013 and there is no doubt that has been a huge success. 

It provided focus for those involved and sent a clear message to our partners in the Chinese market that significant value was being attached to our relationship with their nation.  A feature of the Forum was public and private sector organisations joining forces, which has ensured a coordinated approach to stimulating trade, investment and wider collaboration between the two locations.  The Manchester-India Partnership will look to replicate this. 

As with China, securing direct air links to India is a top priority for the Partnership.  We know that there is significant demand from within our catchment area for a direct service.  Already more than 270,000 people within that area travel indirectly to India – that is the sixth largest demand in Europe and more than the likes of Milan, Zurich and Rome, all of which have direct flights.

We know first-hand what direct connectivity with high growth markets does in terms of delivering social and economic benefits. Again, the best example is our direct route to Beijing, which launched in June 2016 and in its first year surpassed expectations, delivering impacts including:

-              A 265% increase in export values, growing the value of goods shipped from MAN to China to 200m a month

-              A doubling of Manchester’s inward investment pipeline

-              A major increase in visitor economy spend to 140m a year

-              Growth in international student numbers at Manchester University, meaning applications from China were twice the national average

-              The formation of a range of partnerships between Manchester and China, in fields from advanced materials and infrastructure to football and healthcare

I have every confidence that similar benefits would be realised on the back of a direct route between Manchester and India being launched – and let’s be clear, none of the above would be felt unless the service was direct, not connecting via London or Amsterdam.

The business case is almost proven and it is fair to say we have had lots of encouraging dialogue already with a range of Indian airlines. We hope the formation of this partnership will contribute to these discussions becoming even more meaningful in the weeks and months ahead.

Securing a direct service is one of my number one priorities and I am sure everyone would agree that this partnership will have been a force for good if we see the kinds of positive impacts I have outlined above in the years to come.

Find out more about the Manchester-India Partnership.

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