City Hall has opened talks with Parisian officials as it seeks a series of bilateral business deals

Mark Sands
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City Hall officials are considering ways to provide collaborative support for start ups (Source: Getty)

City Hall has entered talks with French authorities as it seeks to secure collaborative deals with London's peers to boost business.

Sadiq Khan's office has been keen to promote London's openness to trade since June's Brexit vote, and now the Mayor's teams are seeking to strike a series of city-to-city deals.

Speaking to City A.M., Sadiq Khan's deputy mayor for business Rajesh Agrawal said talks are already underway with officials in the French capital, alongside several cities in more distant locations.

“We are talking to cities and exploring opportunities and not just cities that are so far [away], but we are also talking to neighbours.

“We are talking to Paris, for example,” Agrawal said, adding that one possibility could be a deal to help start ups in either the British or French capitals expand in the other site.

“This is just one example. It's early days, so we can't discuss a lot of details at this stage, but Brexit also poses opportunities which we need to grab with both hands.”

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An entrepreneur who launched two fintech businesses before entering City Hall this year, Agrawal argued that the the largest sources of investment for London are the US, India and China.

In the lattermost relationship, tensions have been rising since the decision to delay final approval of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power reactors to September.

However, Agrawal said that London is insulated from this by its reputation as a hub for both international culture and business.

“The Chinese businesses and investors I have spoken to are very bullish on London. They know it as a great place to do business. They love London,” he said.

Does that mean the Chinese Ambassador to the UK was exaggerating the threat from the Hinkley delay when saying this week that UK-Sino relations were “at a crucial juncture”?

“They dynamics for the rest of the country are slightly different but London remains an international city and the way the outside world perceives it is different, and rightly so,” Agrawal said.

“It is a global city, not a regional city, so it is seen in a certain light.”

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Meanwhile, City Hall is holding firm to hopes of securing single market access for London businesses after the UK completes Brexit.

"If you speak to businesses that is what they want," Agrawal said. "And ultimately, this is going to be a trade deal, so it has to be business-led."

"If we are not going to listen to business in a trade deal then what kind of deal is it? It doesn't make sense."