THERE is no doubt in my mind that despite the uncertainty surrounding taxation and regulation and despite the continuing public anger, unfavourable media reports and a degree of political point-scoring, the City of London remains – in the eyes of the international business community at least – one of the most attractive financial centres in the world to do business.
This point was made clear last week when the City of London Corporation hosted high profile delegations from two of our key international partners.
On Monday, as part of his European tour, the Chinese vice-premier, Li Keqiang, visited Mansion House to meet the chancellor and leading figures from the City, while on Thursday, French Prime Minister François Fillon addressed an audience of more than 200 people at Guildhall.
The one thing both of these distinguished guests had in common was a commitment to developing closer links with the City.
London’s pre-eminence as a business hub places it firmly at the centre of an increasingly globalised marketplace and positions it to be a driving force behind the global economic recovery.
The Chinese vice-premier was particularly interested in the lessons he could take back about developing a world-class business environment.
Shanghai and Beijing are already huge centres for international finance and trade but, as world focus inevitably shifts towards the emerging markets in Asia, the potential for further growth is huge. Through meetings such as the one last week, the City of London is working to ensure UK-based firms are at the forefront of this growth.
The City of London is not just outward looking; it is also one of the 32 boroughs of Greater London, providing services for workers and tourists as well as for our 9,000 residents.
Last Thursday, Mansion House hosted more than 300 guests – including the leaders of the vast majority of these 32 Boroughs – at the London Government Dinner, where the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the leader of London councils, mayor Jules Pipe, and of course our own lord mayor all spoke about the challenges we are facing.
Again, there was a common thread in all of these speeches. Everyone involved in running London recognises that it is a fantastic place to live, to work and to visit and is determined to ensure this remains the case.
Judging from the conversations I have had this week, reports of the demise of the City are certainly premature.
It is clear however there is much work to do if London as a whole is to keep its competitive position in a fast-changing world economy and if it is to remain somewhere in which people – whatever their business background – continue to want to visit and to live.
Stuart Fraser is the policy chairman at the City of London Corporation