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Explore the themes of the UK-China Business Forum

by Robynne Tindall
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Explore the themes of the UK-China Business Forum conference in more depth, from the sustainability choices of Chinese consumers to green finance opportunities in the Greater Bay Area

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UK-China relations and trade opportunities in the post-Covid era

Travel restrictions, an uncertain economic outlook and a rapidly-shifting geopolitical landscape have created challenges in the UK-China trading relationship. So as China moves into a post-Covid world, it is more important than ever that UK businesses understand which industries currently represent areas of opportunity. This article looks at developments across the consumer market, finance and healthcare, and the travel and tourism sectors.

UK-China net zero partnerships

The news that the UK saw its warmest year on record in 2022 – and the prediction that this year could be even hotter – is yet another reminder of the need to enable a low-carbon future. With their governments behind them, companies in the UK and China have been working hard to achieve the two countries’ Net Zero targets across fields from green finance to clean transportation and the urban energy transition – often working in partnership.

Opportunities for UK businesses in the Greater Bay Area

The Greater Bay Area (GBA)  comprising nine municipalities of Guangdong Province (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing) around the Pearl River Delta, plus the two Special Administrative Zones (SAR) of Hong Kong and Macau  has a population of 86 million people with a collective GDP roughly the size of Canada’s at nearly USD 2 trillion. Four years on from the release of a major plan for the development of the region, what opportunities does the GBA present for UK businesses and in what industries?

British Brands and China’s new generation of sustainable consumers

The lack of public environmental activism in China can paint a picture of a consumer base disinterested in sustainability, but this is not the case. In fact, a June 2022 consumer survey by PwC showed that 34% of Chinese consumers “often” or “always” agree that a business’ environmental actions influenced their decision to buy, and the pandemic has only accelerated this trend. As Chinese consumers become more discerning about the origins of the products they buy, smaller brands can have the edge over big names — we explore how British brands can take advantage of this. 

Sustainable and diverse UK-China education partnerships

As many as 144,000 Chinese students are currently pursuing higher education in the UK (32% of the total number of international students), and they have become one of the country’s largest international student cohorts, making significant contributions to the higher education sector and regional economies. While this situation is unlikely to change any time soon, a number of new challenges – from the rising quality of Chinese universities to the tense geopolitical environment – mean that educational institutions need to consider how to make sure that their strategies are sustainable.

UK-China partnerships in green finance and sustainable investment

2021 saw China become the world’s second-largest green bond market according to HSBC (issuing over RMB 600 billion of green bonds, a 180% increase on 2020), as the country rolled out funding to support the vast array of clean and renewable infrastructural projects that will be required to meet its ambitious net zero targets. The UK financial sector, for its part, has played a world-leading role in developing such instruments from their inception, and is well-placed to work together with Chinese partners in pursuing common goals.

Tech for global good: UK-China collaboration in science and technology

Partnerships between the UK and China in science and technology can create significant economic and societal benefits, including boosting productivity, improving healthcare outcomes, and creating a greener economy. To give just one example, Sarah Keenlyside spoke to the co-founder of Beijing X-Magtech Technologies, Bin Cai, to find out how crossover between China and the UK in everything from education to manufacturing made their pioneering medical technology possible.


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