Greater Manchester strengthens ties with Japan as both regions look to net zero targets

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A new steering group will aim to boost ties between Greater Manchester and Japan which could see both regions work together and share best practice around decarbonisation and net zero targets.

The public/private sector initiative features some of North West’s leading organisations including Deloitte, MIDAS, the Department of International Trade, and Electricity North West, which is owned by Japanese firm Kansai Electric Power Co. Inc. and China’s CNIC.

The Greater Manchester Steering Group follows other successful partnerships established in Manchester to strengthen business and trade relationships with countries in Asia. They include the Manchester China Forum and the Manchester India Partnership.

Jo Ahmed, partner in Global Employer Services & NW Leadership team at Deloitte has been instrumental in establishing the steering group.

She is currently Honorary Consul of Japan in Manchester & Deputy Chair of the Manchester India Partnership.

Said Ahmed: “Manchester has already established key partnerships with India and China which has seen a collection of interested parties that have come together with a collective vision to promote the strong relationship between Greater Manchester with those countries as well as highlight opportunities around trade, investment and innovation.

“The Greater Manchester Japan Steering Group is already looking at the key areas of opportunities and collaboration between the two regions.

“As with Manchester, we know clean energy and net zero are huge priorities for Japan, a country with advanced energy-efficient technologies, and we are keen to see how we can learn from each other but share best practice too.”

Manchester will be working closely with the Japanese city of Osaka, which has been identified as a city that shares many similarities with Manchester including its rich industrial and textiles heritage and is often referred to as the ‘Manchester of the East.’

The two cities have been successful in bidding for EU funding to collaborate as part of the International Urban and Regional Programme which is centred around decarbonisation priorities.

Ahmed said: “This is all about how we can share our knowledge and innovation around decarbonisation and the successful bid is a result of this steering group coming together to make it happen.

“The value that a forum like this creates is far reaching and builds a groundswell of support and opportunity as well as giving both regions a platform to look at other areas of importance such as healthy ageing where we have lots to learn from each other.

“This is not just about trade and investment, but how we can make the lives of people in our towns and cities better through shared practice and learning.”

Mayor Andy Burnham spoke of the importance of the Greater Manchester Steering Group during Deloitte’s Tokyo 2020 Welcome Home event which took place at Halle St Peters in Ancoats recently.

The event celebrated the achievements of several Olympic and Paralympic athletes from the North West.

Burnham said: “We want to build on the success of the Olympic Games and build on the spirit that came through it as we look to our net zero priorities, and we resolve as one world to rise to the challenge of climate change.

“We are close to signing a formal agreement with Osaka so we can develop and strengthen these links and build on our vision together.”

The total of goods and service trade between the UK and Japan accounted for more than £30bn in 2019, and Japanese businesses have been actively investing in the UK across various sectors for many years.

For Japan, the UK is the second-largest investment destination only after the US, and Japanese foreign direct investment to the UK spans industries from the automotive sector to pharmaceuticals, and from real estate to communications.