Ministers put regional infrastructure plans in the spotlight ahead of "largest ever" Qatari business summit

 
Mark Sands
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British Prime Minister Attends The 37th Gulf Cooperation Council
May met Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani in December (Source: Getty)

Ministers are hoping to secure a cash injection for the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine projects when the UK plays host to the biggest investment and business forum ever held with Qatar later this month.

Qatar is the UK's third largest export market in the Middle East, accounting for £35bn of investment into the UK, and Prime Minister Theresa May has made building further ties a priority in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

The joint “Qatar-UK Business and Investment form” will see the likes of the Qatar finance minister Ali Shareef Al-Emadi come to the UK, with international trade secretary Liam Fox also in attendance.

Read More: Osborne vows to support his Northern Powerhouse policy agenda

Ministers hope to use the occasion to ink further deals for investment into the UK, with both the infrastructure projects in the crosshairs ahead of the two day event, which will take place in London and Birmingham.

“Hosting this event in Birmingham gives us the chance to show investors the untapped potential that exists in this and other parts of the country,” Fox said.

“By making the UK a beacon for free trade around the world we are backing businesses to invest in the long-term future of Britain and creating the conditions for them to thrive.”

Read More: Chancellor unveils Midlands Engine strategy with £392m investment

It comes as Downing Street lays out the plans for a Commonwealth Summit set to be held in London and Windsor next year.

Leaders from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the event, and May met her Maltese opposite number today in preparation for the 2018 event.

The summit will see the UK replace Malta as chair of the Commonwealth until 2020.

“In hosting the Commonwealth Summit next year, the UK is committed to working with all members not only to reaffirm these shared values, but also to re-energise and revitalise the Commonwealth to cement its relevance to this and future generations,” May said.

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