UK sends largest business delegation to CIFTIS in Beijing, deepening partnership
China-Britain partnership expected to improve: analysts
Published: Aug 29, 2023 08:40 PM
China UK Photo:VCG

China UK Photo:VCG

 The UK is set to send the largest business delegation to China in four years to attend next month's China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), where about 60 British companies and organizations will engage in policy dialogues with their Chinese counterparts, the Global Times learned.

The UK, the Guest Country of Honor of CIFTIS, to be held from September 2 to 6 in Beijing, will hold more than 70 events to explore how the UK and China can work together to accelerate their trade partnership, read a statement sent from the UK Embassy in China to the Global Times on Tuesday.

The UK delegation will be led by an official from the Department for Business and Trade, and it will be the largest business delegation dispatched to China in the past four years, said the statement.

Business partners of the UK Pavilion at the 2023 CIFTIS will include AstraZeneca China, HSBC, BP China, Standard Chartered, Pearson, Thoughtworks, Clifford Chance, CIMA and Schroders.

"As China continues to develop, more and more people value the services in which the UK excels. Whether it is financial services, such as pensions and insurance, or healthcare and environmental services that improve the quality of life, we see great potential for UK-China business cooperation," Tom Duke, head of the Department for Business and Trade in China, was quoted as saying in the statement.

"The commercial relationship between the two nations continues to be strong. If you talk to business people, they want to have a good relationship with China and the politicians are not keeping pace with the sentiments of business," Keith Bennett, vice chairman of the 48 Group Club, a London-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting trade between China and the UK, told the Global Times.

In terms of business cooperation, Bennett said that China is not just a great power in manufacturing, but also a great power in research and development, in innovation, and in all sectors of the new economy, such as artificial intelligence, mobile internet and big data. At the same time, Britain has some advanced experiences too.

"I think there's great complementarity [between China and the UK] to have technical, scientific and R&D collaboration, and that means more cooperation in the education sector," said Bennett.

According to data from the British Office for National Statistics, in 2022, the UK's services exports to China rose 7.2 percent year-on-year to reach 670 million pounds ($845 million). The UK's services imports from China rose 34.6 percent to 800 million pounds. 

From 1997 to 2020, China-UK trade in services has grown at an average annual rate of 12.2 percent.

"Being named Country of Honor for the 2023 CIFCIS is an honor we intend to make the most of. This summer, we want to showcase success and develop new opportunities for the UK's exceptional, innovative and sustainable services sector. Our offer goes beyond financial and professional services, hospitality and logistics," Geraldine McCafferty, deputy head of the British Embassy in Beijing, said in a statement sent to the Global Times in May.

Analysts said that China-UK cooperation is important as the world encounters multiple challenges.

The conditions for maintaining normal bilateral ties need to be improved, as some British politicians have tied themselves to the anti-China chariot of the US, analysts said.

"There is a divergence between political and commercial interests or views in the UK. But it's very important for both countries to keep up and intensify good commercial relationship," said Bennett.

UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly will pay an official visit to China from Wednesday, which is expected to help improve bilateral relations, analysts said.