The West Midlands has continued to attract consistent levels of foreign direct investment, despite Brexit uncertainty, according to statistics collected by the Department of International Trade (DIT).
Since the UK’s Brexit referendum in June 2016, the West Midlands has accounted for the second-most FDI 14,648 jobs and third-most greenfield FDI projects in the UK, according to investment monitoring service, fDi Markets. Only Greater Manchester (38 projects) and Greater London (429 projects) produced more greenfield FDI projects between June 2016 and June 2018. While other UK regions suffered in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, the West Midlands attracted 73 greenfield FDI projects in 2016 – the most since 2003, according to fDi Markets.
“Yet again the West Midlands Combined Authority [WMCA] area has bucked the national trend and seen an increase in foreign direct investment,” said Andy Street, the mayor of the WMCA.
“This has created nearly 8000 new jobs and is a reflection of the region’s growing reputation around the world for innovation and excellence in advanced manufacturing as well as its growing digital sector.”
In the past year, the West Midlands has secured significant investments from foreign giants, such as American online retailer, Amazon, and the German manufacturer, Siemens. Most notably, Amazon has created two shipping and distribution centres in the West Midlands since the start of 2018, including one in Coventry ($34.8m.) and Rugby ($77.2m), according to fDi markets. Meanwhile, Siemens opened one of its newest 3D printing facilities in the West Midlands city of Worcester in March 2018. The project was worth $37.8m and led to the creation of 55 jobs, according to statistics from fDi Markets.
This FDI success is due in part to the economic revival of former industrial cities located within the West Midlands, such as Birmingham and Coventry, which offer foreign investors highly educated talent pools, low operation costs, modern infrastructure, and a world-renowned tradition in manufacturing. This combination has led to the creation of innovative workspaces, such as Wolverhampton’s 239-acre i54 technology park.
“Locating in Wolverhampton’s i54 facility will further enhance our UK footprint with an innovation centre of excellence designed to support our worldwide client base,” said David Jones, director and general manager at the Swedish industrial company, Atlas Copco. “[This] West Midlands investment enables the designing and manufacturing of hydraulic tooling for special bespoke applications for industries where controlled bolt tightening is required,” he said.
In the face of Brexit uncertainty, the future FDI landscape for the West Midlands looks bright, especially given the development of the HS2 high-speed railway and the WMCA’s £10bn investment programme. The region’s post-Brexit defiance will likely be put to the test over the course of the next year, as the UK continues to negotiate an exit deal with the European Union.