At China’s first supply chain-themed expo, UK companies eye opportunities in EVs, solar power and green financing
Published: Nov 28, 2023 09:31 PM
Audience seen at the booth of the first China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE) in Beijing on November 28, 2023. Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT
Audience seen at the booth of the first China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE) in Beijing on November 28, 2023. Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT

At the ongoing first China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE), which kicked off on Tuesday, a number of UK financial, mining and pharmaceutical companies including HSBC, EY, Rio Tinto, Standard Chartered and AstraZeneca are eyeing more business opportunities in China in sectors such as electric vehicles, solar power, industrial upgrading and green financing. 

UK company representatives told the Global Times on Tuesday that China's complete and resilient supply chains, combined with moves toward high-level opening-up and creating an improved business environment, have given them strong confidence to deepen investment in one of the world's largest markets. 

Some industry insiders and observers also voiced hope that China-UK economic ties could move toward a more pragmatic orientation and the appointment of former UK prime minister David Cameron as foreign secretary, which entrepreneurs said would serve as a further draw for them to expand bilateral investment. 

"We expect that the CISCE will provide professional service and accounting firms with opportunities in environmental, social and governance (ESG) fields such as green, low-carbon, clean energy, emerging transformation technology and sustainable architecture, as Chinese venture capital firms and private equity funds are looking to reduce carbon emissions," Jane Yang, Managing Partner of EY Beijing Office, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Yang also took note of China's moves to promote financial opening-up and strengthen financial innovation, which she said indicates that more foreign financial institutions will be "provided with enough room to grow and broad space for further investing in the Chinese market."

Alf Barrios, Rio Tinto chief commercial officer and China chair, also told the Global Times on Tuesday that the company sees "great potential for further collaboration" as China is leading green technology development in multiple areas globally. 

"China is a great partner for jointly exploring applicable technologies and decarbonization solutions for the industry's low-carbon transition," Barrios said. 

At the booth of Rio Tinto, the company has showcased its products and solutions with specific capabilities tailored for various industry markets. Rio Tinto is China's largest iron ore supplier with about 250 million tons of shipments every year. 

A spokesperson of HSBC told the Global Times that one of the biggest attractions for multinationals is China's unique position as an important base for the global manufacturing industry, its deeply integrated supply chain and complete industry chain. "China is also climbing up the value chain and making itself a key link in global supply chains," the spokesperson said.

There are hopes that the UK government could take a more pragmatic approach to dealing with business relations with China. 

UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Dominic Johnson said at an investment summit on Monday that "he was working to attract Chinese car manufacturers to build a factory in the country and that investment from China was crucial to meeting environmental targets," Reuters reported.

In response, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday that China is willing to work with the UK to leverage each other's advantages, expand economic, trade and investment cooperation, and promote green development on the basis of mutual respect and win-win outcomes.

"It is hoped that the UK and China could meet each other halfway, and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies investing and operating in the UK," Wang noted.

Wang noted that economic, trade and investment cooperation between China and the UK, both of which are major world economies, is conducive to achieving common development and fostering global economic growth and prosperity.