A delegation from Peel Group and Wirral Council will fly to China this week to sign the joint venture agreement with Sam Wa Minerals for the development of Wirral International Trade Centre.
Wirral Council's newly elected Labour leader Cllr Phil Davies will be accompanied by Cllr Jeff Green, leader of the Conservative Group, and Cllr Tom Harney, leader of the Liberal Democrats. Also on the trip are Wirral council senior officers Kevin Adderley, director of regeneration, housing and planning and Emma Degg, head of communications and community engagement. The council delegation's flights and hotel costs are being paid for by Wirral Council and total £8,328.55.
Peel will be represented by Lindsay Ashworth, development director. Ashworth said: "Wirral Council has had the courage and vision to work with us to develop links with China. The work we have done together is now reaping significant rewards – rewards that will see the Wirral Waters vision coming to fruition and much needed jobs and regeneration delivered. National and local Government support is crucial when conducting negotiations in China. I am very pleased that the leaders of all three groups will be supporting this important signing and would like to thank them for their invaluable support to date."
The delegation will meet Chinese investors and representatives from Suzhou and Taicang, Wirral's sister cities, before attending the signing of the agreement on Tuesday 29 May in Beijing. The signing will be witnessed by senior representatives from both the British and Chinese Governments.
Cllr Davies said: "Signing this agreement represents a hugely significant milestone in the history of the £4.5bn Wirral Waters project. The International Trade Centre will be the first of its kind in the UK and represents an investment of £175m by Peel and its partners in China. It will create upwards of 3000 jobs and will be the catalyst for further investment in the wider Wirral Waters site.
"A lot of work has gone into getting us to this point. It is why the Council has always supported Peel in their efforts to attract Chinese investment and will continue to do so. The benefits to Wirral's economy and our residents from such a major investment and the jobs it will create mean that there is no more important priority for me as I begin my Leadership of the Council."
The ITC is a four-phased development totalling in excess of 2.5m sq ft with plans to enable up to 1,000 separate companies from China, India, South Korea or other emerging economies, to exhibit, sell, assemble and distribute their goods into the UK. Each building will comprise individual trade showroom units, storage and assembly facilities, serviced offices, a flexible exhibition space and ancillary services.
Work on the ITC in Birkenhead docklands is expected to begin in early 2013.