Monday 1 June 2020 6:00 am

Lord Mayor: A global London is vital to a speedy recovery

William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.

International cooperation has never been more important than now as we face up to the challenges posed by the current pandemic.

Countries across the globe are tackling huge public health, economic and social issues so it is vital that we work together and continue to learn from one another. After all, global problems require global solutions.

This cross-border collaboration is also critical as we look towards securing our recovery.

As Lord Mayor, I would normally visit over 20 countries in the course of the year to promote partnership with the UK’s world-leading enterprises – mainly financial and professional services – and showcase our unique cultural offer.

International travel is obviously not an option at the current time but that does not mean we have been sitting still. In fact, much of this engagement has been taking place virtually in recent weeks.

Read more: London looks to the future as light emerges at the end of the tunnel

It may not be the same as meeting in person but video calls with key business leaders and overseas investors have helped us to understand their concerns during the current crisis as well as their future plans. I have also had meetings with our Trade Commissioners to ask how the City can best support them at this time.

Building on this work, I will also be hosting a range of international virtual events including investor roundtables and fintech webinars. It certainly feels like a different way of doing things but the feedback we have been getting from business leaders both here and overseas is that these sessions are incredibly valuable.

We are also organising a series of virtual ‘visits’ to a number of key markets in the coming months, with this programme kicked off by the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness meeting US regulators in May. The response to COVID-19 will, of course, form a large part of these international discussions but we will also want to cover other important opportunities to speed the economic recovery through collaboration on trade, sustainability and digitalisation.

The City Corporation firmly believes a renewed focus on closer relationships with key financial services markets will be vital to driving the global recovery.

In parallel to this overseas outreach, we have also been engaging more locally with our Culture Mile Network to understand the challenges facing these organisations. Institutions and artists have been facing a difficult time, so we have been testing methods of business support and working on a range of projects profiling local partners.

Innovative initiatives such as Culture Mile’s ‘Radio Local’, a new daily live broadcast that celebrates the local City community, and The Hidden City, a behind-the-scenes in the City of London photography exhibition, have flourished digitally during the lockdown.

While this is a challenging period for those operating in the cultural and business worlds, our fundamental strengths – innovation, creativity, talent, rule of law – provide a strong long-term platform for the future.

We will continue to work closely with key partners both at home and overseas to ensure that the City, London and UK bounces back after we get through this pandemic.

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