Gloucester mayor Chris Chatterton has made an historic speech in the South Korean city of Paju to mark the signing of a new agreement between the two cities.
Mr Chatterton flew out on Monday ahead of the major event in Paju in which he signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the city’s mayor In-Jae Lee.
The agreement could mean South Korean businesses one day investing millions of pounds and creating thousands of jobs in Gloucester, whilst offering new opportunities for Gloucester firms in Asia.
It is also designed to promote cultural links between the two cities.
The connection between Gloucester and Paju has remained strong since the Gloucestershire Regiment fought in the Korean War.
In his speech, Mr Chatterton said: “This is an historic moment for our two cities. Gloucester and Paju have been linked together by the events of history for more than 60 years and today we are strengthening and formalising that link as we look to the future together.
“The signing of this memorandum of understanding sows the seeds for our joint future growth that
is full of so many possibilities. Although we are separated by more than 5000 miles, we will undoubtedly been drawn closer together by the actions we take here. The opportunities for us to work together are potentially enormous.
“Gloucester is one of the fastest growing ‘small cities’ in the United Kingdom. Over the last few years, we have seen over £700million of inward investment, transforming the city. We have seen many new businesses open and begin trading and we have strong tourism, finance and new technology sectors. We also benefit from a young and dynamic population.
“But we don’t want to sit back and wait for things to happen. We want to reach out, innovate and develop. We want to improve the lives of our citizens and the fabric of our city, and more importantly, in this rapidly changing world, we want to work with people who understand the challenges of the future and how by working together, we can benefit all of our citizens.
“Just think what we can learn from each other.
Gloucester has been a city for 2000 years, and my office, the Mayor, has been in existence for over eight centuries. During that time Gloucester has continually innovated, been at the forefront of changes in society, embraced the challenges of industrialisation.
“However, the leaders of change and development are here. Over the last half-century, this country, and this city, have been at the centre of the most rapid development on the planet. We now live in a world of super-fast technology, of constantly evolving and improving devices designed to cope with the increasing demands of life in the 21st century, and the world leaders are you.
“We want to work together, to learn, to collaborate, in order to benefit both of our cities.
“Our signatures on this document are the beginning of a new future relationship.”
Mr Chatterton, who has self-funded his trip, added that he had ‘never felt more honoured’ during his term of office to represent Gloucester.
His visit will continue tomorrow with the unveiling of a new multi-million pound memorial to the Glorious Glosters in Paju. Later in the week he will travel to the capital Seoul for more talks and visits.