With the release of the 2018 Tou Ying Tracker, Grant Thornton gives an overview of Chinese investment in the UK over the last year, highlighting key sectors and providing a snapshot of trade relations.
Chinese business is flourishing
In spite of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and other international tensions, Chinese investment in the UK, particularly in certain key sectors, is on the increase. In 2018, the largest 750 companies in the UK had an average growth rate of 11.6%, a combined turnover of just under £70 billion and employed nearly 80,000 people in the UK. Of these 750 companies, the top 30 examined in depth for the Tracker had a combined turnover of £43 billion and employed 3,500 people.
Key industries highlighted by the Tracker were the manufacturing and industrial sector, with 13 of the 30 businesses operating in this area, whilst the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) industry was also significant, with nine of the top 30 conducting their business in this area. The significance of these areas corresponds with China’s outbound foreign direct investment strategy (OFDI), which pushes Chinese business towards investing in the Belt and Road Initiative and the industries highlighted within the country’s five year plan.
In spite of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and other international tensions, Chinese investment in the UK, particularly in certain key sectors, is increasing
With four of the top 30 companies operating in the financial sector, it’s clear that the positioning of London as a centre for global finance, the high standard of professional services, and the opportunity to do business in English all combine to make the UK an attractive destination for Chinese investment.
The weak pound encourages Chinese businesses to look to the UK, whilst Europe as a whole is benefitting from the ongoing trade war between China and the US.
Trade between China and the UK has dipped slightly since its peak in 2017 but is still very strong, with imports to the UK worth £45.2 billion, nearly double what they were in 2008. Imports to China from the UK have grown even more exponentially to £22.3 billion, nearly three time what they were ten years ago.
The Tracker makes clear that Chinese business places a great deal of importance in establishing a solid presence in the UK; the relationship between the UK and China is strong and getting stronger.