Council trade and investment visit to Qatar and Romania


A delegation from Cardiff Council is to visit Qatar and Eastern Europe next week in a bid to secure trade and investment deals for the city.


The intensive business trip follows on from discussions between Cardiff Council and UK Government Trade Commissioners about the importance of leading British cities seeking out opportunities across the world for trade and inward investment deals post Brexit.


The Cardiff Council delegation will visit Doha in Qatar, and Bucharest in Romania before returning to the UK.


Leader of the Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, who will lead the delegation, said: "The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently predicted that 90% of economic growth will come from outside the EU. As the uncertainty around Brexit grows it's vitally important that Cardiff, as the capital city of Wales, looks to encourage more trade and investment from overseas and from emerging markets.


"This trip will give us the chance to tell Cardiff's story to key investors across the globe. Our city is booming and there are fantastic opportunities for global companies to come and invest here. In facttrade between the UK and the Eastern European and Central Asian region has been growing in recent years, with total trade increasing by 9.2% to £30.6 billion in 2016. We want to make sure Cardiff is in a good position to capture some of this investment.


"We have a multi-million pounds portfolio of major projects in the pipeline. This is on top of the new business district in the city to the north and the south of Cardiff Central station. As part of my administration's Capital Ambition programme we are also creating a new vision for Cardiff Bay as a major leisure destination and we have plans for a new multi-purpose arena in the Bay.


"So it's important - despite Brexit - the world sees Cardiff as being open for business and we need to ensure that all of these big city projects and plans translate into economic prosperity whose benefits can be shared by everyone who lives here."


Cllr Thomas will be joined in Doha by Cardiff Council's Chief Executive Paul Orders, its Director of Economic Development, Neil Hanratty and Head of Economic Development Ken Poole, and the Chair of Cardiff International Airport Roger Lewis.


The delegation will present a significant range of major investment opportunities in Cardiff to leading sovereign wealth funds and potential Qatari investors.


In May this year, Qatar Airlines set up a direct service from Cardiff to Doha and the new route is seen as a potential catalyst for creating business opportunities between the two cities. The airline has also been in discussions with the council and Welsh Government around developing a new 5-star hotel in the Welsh capital and the council hopes to progress this proposal during the visit.


The Doha visit, which is being facilitated by the UK Government and Welsh Government officials based at the British Embassy in Doha, includes a breakfast briefing with the British Ambassador to the State of Qatar and an introduction and presentation to four, leading financial institutions, among them the Qatar Investment Authority(QIA)which isthe core Sovereign Wealth Fund of Qatar.  The QIA has assets under management of circa $300billion overall, and is a long-term institutional investor with a global portfolio and investments in the UK of some £35bn.


Cllr Thomas said: "In the morning we will have the opportunity not only to talk with the Qatar Investment Authority, but also to the Qatari Diar which co-ordinates the country's real estate development priorities. They have a large London-based portfolio including The Shard, The Shell Centre, Chelsea Barracks, Olympic East Village, US Embassy Building and No.1 Hyde Park.


"In the afternoon we have scheduled meetings with the chief executives and senior management teams of the Qatar International Islamic Bank and the Qatar National Bank Capital.  All of these meetings will allow us to present a significant range of major investment opportunities in Cardiff to potential Qatari investors who we understand are encouraged by the launch in May 2018 of the direct daily service by Qatar Airways between Hamad International Airport, Doha, and Cardiff International Airport."


Following the visit to Doha, the council delegation will travel to the Romanian capital Bucharest on Tuesday, September 11th, to discuss a potential investment in a new leisure facility in Cardiff Bay.


Cllr Thomas, said: "I'm hopeful our visits will pay real dividends for the city, helping to bring more jobs and prosperity to the region. It's important that Cardiff - as the capital city for Wales - continues to seek out new investment opportunities. We can't allow the uncertainty surrounding Brexit to halt our plans for the city and the city region's development and growth. Cardiff must continue to be an outward looking, international city, acting as the connecting point between Wales and the world."