Ordering Chinese business
Richards Wade, partner and head of the firm's Construction group attended a reception at the Chinese Embassy on 23 January. Here he shares his blog on the issues raised, and his thoughts on the growing business links between the UK and China.
"Business from the UK to China increased by 15% in 2012 and is set to grow again in 2013. And in 2012 some $8 billion was invested in the UK by Chinese business." Thus spake the Minister Counsellor Zhou Xiaoming at a reception to celebrate the forthcoming New Year at the Chinese Embassy on 23 January. These words and other encouraging comments left a strong sense of a trade partnership that is flourishing between the two countries as we prepare to welcome in the Year of the Snake.
Our invitation to join Embassy officials and representatives from various UK businesses came through Blake Morgan's involvement (as one of the national strategic partners) in Link to China, a business matchmaking initiative run through the British Chambers of Commerce. Our involvement has already led to some interesting opportunities arising from prospective investment in the UK by Chinese companies (and, indeed, individuals). It is clear, though, that there is a very steep learning curve, not least in seeking to understand why businesses in China are interested in investing in the UK in the first place. After all, China is experiencing growth of around 7% (even following recent 'disappointing' results) whereas the UK's growth is, at best, flat.
Despite that, the Chinese see a number of areas in the UK economy that are ripe for investment. Much of the talk at the Embassy last night was of infrastructure, the Green economy (especially the notion of developing 'liveable cities') and the growing reach of Chinese consumers. These are all areas where the Chinese see the UK as being especially fertile ground. Indeed, amongst its trading partners in Europe the prevailing sense was that, alongside Germany, the UK is the country of choice for China.
As an aside, on the burning issue of the day, no one seemed in any doubt that the UK would still be part of the EU in 2020!"