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Greater Manchester eyes ‘premier’ status through strengthened links with Germany

Greater Manchester is focusing on improving its links with “number one target” Germany in a bid to become the “premier city region” in the UK outside of London, according to Andy Burnham’s new special advisor for the European powerhouse.

Richard Carter is part of the team which is taking part in a two-day delegation to the country this week during which Greater Manchester’s leaders hope stronger links will be forged to help benefit the business community back home.

A former managing director of BASF UK, Mr Carter added the high-profile visit is a bit of a “coup” for Greater Manchester and talked up the positive for the city region.

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In an exclusive interview with BusinessLive, he also said the visit would help Greater Manchester reach its net zero target of 2038 and has given it the chance to “reset” its bilateral relations with the country post Brexit.

He said: “Germany is the biggest economic power and influencer in Europe and it is one of our key trading partners.

“Because of Brexit we need to do a reset of our bilateral relationships.

“The EU is not such a focus for the national government anymore as they are busy doing trading deals with a number of other countries.

“Nothing has changed in the fact that Germany is one of our major trading partners.

“It is an important partner and has a lot of potential for the future as well.

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“We are no longer in the EU so we have to use this window of opportunity to develop our bilateral relations.

“We are aiming to build on the already strong links we have with Germany and take them to the next level.

“We want to put Greater Manchester on the map as the premier go-to city region in the UK after London. That’s the goal.”

On Thursday and Friday, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham is leading the delegation on a visit to North Rhine-Westphalia State (NRW) in Germany.

The GMCA and the Regionalverband Ruhr (RVR), the comparable regional government body for the NRW, have developed a ‘collaboration agreement’ which is to be signed by both parties during the visit.

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This will happen during the NRW 75th anniversary which is being celebrated with a number of events during the last week of August and first of September.

The GMCA has also pointed out that Germany remains Greater Manchester’s top global trading partner with regards to export volume (£805m in 2019).

Mr Carter added: “Greater Manchester has a net zero target of 2038 which is 12 years before the UK national government and working with Germany is going to help us achieve that.

“Germany is our number one target and we have decided to focus our efforts on improving links there.

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“That does not mean that we will be neglecting our links with other countries, such as Ireland, but part of strategizing is also working out what not to do.

“We are not seeking to reach out to many other European countries and instead will be focusing a lot on Germany and how these links can benefit Greater Manchester.

“It’s quite a coup for Greater Manchester to be developing these strong links with Germany and it’s been a real success so far.”

Mr Carter is also a former member of the mayor’s Business Advisory Panel while the British-German Association has also been supporting the GMCA with the development of a more coordinated strategy for proactively engaging with Germany and the NRW.

The delegation’s visit to Germany also comes after the German ambassador visited Greater Manchester for two days at the end of July.

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