Construction has officially begun on ABP, the £1.7billion business park , at Royal Albert Dock and next to the London City Airport.

Dignitaries from China and the UK were on hand to shovel the first of many scoops of east London soil as work begins to create a gateway between the UK and the emerging Asian markets which will be lured to Newham to set up their headquarters.

Despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit, international trade minister and new minister for London Greg Hands stated his confidence that the capital remained a world-status hub for inward investment.

He said: “This is a clear vote of confidence in the UK. ABP’s £1.7billion will help to bolster trade links with China and emerging markets, cementing London’s place as a world-class business destination.

“The UK is truly open for business and the Department for International Trade is committed to promoting the strengths of the UK to overseas investors, creating more jobs and economic growth up and down the country.”

VIPs and special guests prepare to dig the first dirt at Royal Albert Dock

The ultimate aim is to create a “third business district” with links between the other two bolstered by Crossrail and links to Europe via the City Airport right next door.

Mr Hands said there were no extra post-Brexit reassurances offered to the Chinese to gain their commitment but he pointed out that the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone – the only one in London – brought with it a number of benefits.

Royal Docks Delivery Team

On the back of this, Mayor Sadiq Khan also announced a joint project with Newham – the Royal Docks Delivery Team – to drive wider regeneration in the Docklands with the prospect of the creation of 40,000 jobs and to ensure “the enterprise zone reaches its full potential”.

“The RDDT will be established and based here [ 1000 Dockside Road ] from this summer. They will be tasked with making the Royal Albert Docks a fantastic place to live and work but also exploring how we’re going to attract more investment and bolster trade links with other overseas markets.

"The expectation is that from day one this park will host a unique cluster of businesses that over time will grow and become a magnet for Asian and European companies.”

A digger stands ready

As a further indication of the forward momentum of the park – now 10 years in the planning – it was revealed that ABP had signed an agreement which will see the Chinese province of Guangdong would set up at Royal Albert Dock to boost trade between the UK and China.

Under the agreement, Guangdong Province has appointed a private Chinese enterprise, Tian’an Group, to set up a 3,000 to 5,000 sq m centre to raise awareness of consumer brands not yet established in the UK and to find local suppliers and businesses to trade with.

Silk Road

The ground-breaking was also attended by the Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming, Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales, Docklands MP Stephen Timms, chairman and president of ABP Xu Weiping; and ABP London CEO Nancy Xu.

Sir Robin said: “We’re delighted that ABP has seen the potential of this part of London and consider Newham the end of the modern Silk Road. This development will provide great benefits to our residents, including job opportunities which we are already seeing with the partnership between ABP and our employment brokerage service, Workplace.”

Mr Xu Weiping said: “Today marks an important milestone in establishing London’s next business district at Royal Albert Dock and promoting trade between London and China in post-Brexit referendum uncertainty.”

The development forms part of the Chinese government’s Belt and Road investment initiative, which stretches from China through central Asia and into Europe.

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