As a sign of the thriving business ties between the UK and China, CBBC members, including business leaders from AstraZeneca, BP and Jaguar Land Rover, held a virtual meeting with Premier Li Keqiang and a group of senior UK business leaders from CBBC Member companies on 6 July 2021
The meeting covered a wide range of issues, including bilateral trade and investment, measures to improve the business environment and counter the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and joint efforts to combat climate change.
In his opening remarks, Premier Li commented that “UK-China trade has increased against all odds; investment is also on the rise. These trends show that between China and the UK there are not just shared interests, but space for growth. A sound and steady UK-China relationship is also critical for the growth of trade and investment between our two countries.”
During the meeting, Premier Li shared perspectives on China’s future economic reform and UK-China relations. The business leaders in attendance — representing some of the UK’s largest companies — also emphasised their long-term commitment to the Chinese market during the meeting. Also in attendance were Ministers from the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Commerce.
Commenting on the meeting, CBBC Chair Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles said, “We greatly appreciate this opportunity to engage with Premier Li. The discussion highlighted how a healthy trade and investment relationship is in the national interest of both the UK and China. As a UK trade minister told Parliament recently, ‘China is probably the biggest single economic opportunity for this country in the coming years’.”
Lord Sassoon, CBBC President, said, “As it has done for over 65 years, the China-Britain Business Council is leading the way in helping British businesses access new opportunities in the China market. We hope that the two governments will now resume their high-level economic dialogues to the benefit of UK jobs and to building back better across the UK.”
Britain is committed to multilateralism and free trade, and China shares this commitment. Whatever problems there are, we can always work them out through dialogue – Premier Li Keqiang
Looking forward, Premier Li expressed his opinion that “It is important for both sides to remember the big picture. Britain is committed to multilateralism and free trade, and China shares this commitment. Whatever problems there are, we can always work them out through dialogue.”
China is currently the UK’s largest bilateral trade partner, with trade value standing at £24 billion as of Q1 2021 (ONS). At the end of 2019, Chinese investment in the UK totalled some £3.2 billion, with 800 Chinese companies employing over 75,000 people in the UK. From 2010 to 2020, UK goods exports to China grew by 73%, with the value to the UK economy rising from £50.5 billion to £87.4 billion. The services surplus is £3.1 billion in 2020, and London is the largest RMB trading hub in the world.