Sheffield City Council’s 60-year deal with Chinese investor: A way out after Brexit?

A major investment deal between Sheffield and China could help the city and South Yorkshire cope with the problems of Brexit, according to a leading economist.

Sheffield City Council has announced a £220m, 60-year investment deal with the Sichuan Guodong Construction Group which is set to play a key role to Sheffield’s development.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council, and Cabinet Member for Business, Skill and Development, said: “This is a step change in the work of the Council on our international relationships to attract jobs and investment into the city.”

And in the wake of Brexit, which may result in South Yorkshire being denied EU funding in the future, an economist at the University of Sheffield says the Chinese deal may hold the key to future prosperity in the region.

Dr Jonathan Perraton, convenor of the Post-Keynesian Economics Study Group said the economic performance of Sheffield hasn’t been looking great recently and looking forward, yet he believes the Chinese investment would be a potential positive sign.

“Sheffield is not one of the richest cities in the UK and particularly South Yorkshire has been quite a lagging region. With the impact of Brexit, which means that Sheffield won’t receive the European funds and may have less investment from the rest of Europe.

“So this large investment into the region could play a key role in the next decade.”

Richard Wright, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said: “It’s not just the money, which is huge, but it’s a statement of faith in our potential.”

Locals are welcoming the potential changes while there is no further reveal on which projects are to be funded.

Kathrin Chadwick, employer of Vulgar Vintage, a local store located in Devonshire Street, said: “Obviously there are lots of Chinese people living in Sheffield, and I don’t feel it is kind of negative thing because I am really interested in living in a multi-cultural environment.

“Sheffield is a multi-cultural city, and that’s what makes Sheffield special.”

Inez Lau

Inez Lau, year 2 Journalism student at The University of Sheffield.

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