Opportunities abound in Sino-UK economic, trade ties: CBBC chief

By Huang Ge Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/28 20:53:39

Lord Sassoon, chairman of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) Photo: Courtesy of CBBC

Editor's Note:

Further market access for UK companies, more improvements in the business environment and how partnership involving the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative can yield more results for UK-China cooperation are expected to be on the agenda during UK Prime Minister Theresa May's visit to China this week, a UK business leader said.

May will pay an official visit from Wednesday to Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Thursday.

Since the State visit of President Xi Jinping to the UK in October 2015, business relations between the UK and China have entered a new era, Lord Sassoon, the chairman of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Bilateral trade has been growing steadily, having increased 250 percent over the past decade to around $60 billion, Lord Sassoon said, adding that "the development is more about the complementarity of our economies, how the UK's competitive advantages suit China's new needs in the new normal."

Made in China 2025 is an opportunity for UK advanced manufacturing to support China's manufacturing as it moves up the value chain, he said.

The B&R initiative could see the UK's advanced financial services, legal services and logistics companies work with Chinese companies in third markets around the world, according to Lord Sassoon.

But more generally, the UK's leading education, healthcare, retail and lifestyle companies are what Chinese consumers seek as their lifestyles become more sophisticated, the chairman noted. "This is an exciting time in UK-China business relations."

Lord Sassoon also talked with Global Times reporter Huang Ge (GT) about challenges faced by Sino-UK economic and trade relations and how Brexit affects Chinese investors' confidence in the UK market.

GT: Do you see any challenges and difficulties in bilateral economic and trade relations? What are they and how can they be addressed?

Lord Sassoon:
Some challenges will exist in every trade relationship but they are not so great that they should hold back the opportunities between the UK and China.

For instance, UK business would like to see greater reform and more open markets, particularly in the financial and professional services sector.

At the CBBC, we stress, with all our stakeholders, the need to keep the UK-China relationship at the top of the agenda. The upcoming visit of Prime Minister May demonstrates the UK's commitment to working together with China to resolve these issues.

GT: What impact do you think Brexit will have on Chinese investors' confidence in the UK market?

Lord Sassoon:
There has been some uncertainty and that has made investors more careful. This is only to be expected. Any shrewd investor wants to minimize their risk.

However, we are confident that the underlying advantages of the UK's investment environment still prevail - it is one of the most open markets in the world to Chinese investment. That the UK has been the largest recipient of Chinese investment in the EU in recent years is testament to that.

GT: As many Chinese companies seek growth in the UK, how do you see the investment environment evolving in the UK?

Lord Sassoon:
It is hoped that when the UK leaves the EU, it will be better-positioned to set its own more advantageous trade policies. However, this is probably still quite some time away.

In the shorter term, I expect to see continued investment into the UK in infrastructure, property and in niche technology and expertise.


Posted in: ECONOMY

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