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The surprising links between Wales and the Greater Bay Area

Wales is keen to attract investment from China's GBA for industries ranging from automotive to life sciences – here's how the two countries can benefit

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Ahead of the UK-GBA Conference in Shenzhen on 21 November, CBBC talks to Peggy Wang, Senior Wales Affair Officer for the Welsh government about the role the Greater Bay Area could play in regional growth in the UK

What are the Welsh Government’s main goals in China?

We are promoting a wide range of priority sectors for Wales, including life sciences, high value manufacturing, education, food and drinks, and tourism, facilitating the development of trade links for our companies/institutions, and attracting more investments for Wales.

How does the Welsh Government go about reaching a Chinese audience?

In addition to joining promotional events like the UK-GBA Conference, we have set up collaborative partnership with the DBT, CBBC, Chinese governments and regional and national industrial association to promote Welsh industries and investment offers. Moreover, we believe that foreign direct investment (FDI) is led by sound trading partnerships, so we are trying hard to facilitate Welsh firms to export to China, and in this way to increase Welsh firms’ exposure in China, and indirectly promote the Welsh industrial ecosystem to the Chinese business community. We also run social media channels on WeChat, Weibo and Xiaohongshu.

How has China changed in recent years as a target market for investment, exports or FDI?

Due to geopolitical factors, we have seen a drop off among Chinese companies that want to establish R&D centres in Wales, as well as less investment in the tech sector.

What kind of industries is Wales trying to attract from China?

Life Science: We have over 360 Welsh-based life science companies with strengths in med tech, diagnostics, wound healing, regenerative medicine and cell therapy. Around 65% of them are in the medtech and diagnostics sub sector. That’s why we launched a medtech and diagnostics cluster in 2020 with a combined turnover of £1.5 billion. Some of the cluster members are proactively looking for investors to optimise their products and services and expand their sales channels. We also established 46 Centres of Excellence focusing on fields including oncology, neuroscience and imaging, wounds and diabetes, who are open for joint research collaborations.

Automotive: Wales has an established and diverse automotive industry with the supply chain capability to satisfy a wide range of requirements. The supply chain for ULEVs and certainly electric vehicles is very much in its infancy in the UK, but in Wales, we have a number of organisations specialising in power electronics, battery and energy technology, lightweighting and materials that have the potential to play a major role in the development of the industry. The compound semiconductor cluster in South Wales is also adding value, which is deployed across a growing number of applications, including electric and hybrid-electric vehicle motors and chargers, and RADAR and LIDAR for autonomous vehicles etc.

Why is the GBA important to Wales?

The Greater Bay Area is a region with high openness, a strong economy, and a great deal of strategic importance in China, characterised by innovation power and advanced engagement with international business. Meanwhile, both GBA and Wales share similarities in terms of industrial layout, with priority sectors including life science, advanced manufacturing, and information technology.

What is the Welsh Government’s strategy in the GBA?

This is very much a learning journey for the Welsh government, as we would like to learn more about the businesses in the Greater Bay Area, and specifically their requests to invest overseas, in order to better our service to accommodate and facilitate their business development. More importantly, we would like to put Wales on the map for all businesses in the GBA, and establish the business connection between Wales and GBA.

What do you hope to get out of this GBA conference?

We would like to further understand the industrial layout of the GBA, and identify opportunities for our companies/institutions in areas like trade and R&D. We also want to understand the need from GEA companies, especially from the investment perspective, and how we can optimise our service, and better support them expanding their business into the UK market.

Register now for the UK-GBA Conference in Shenzhen on Tuesday, 21 November

CBBC’s UK-GBA Conference, coinciding with the visit of CBBC’s Chair, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, and Chief Executive, Andrew Seaton, will provide a platform for senior-level representatives from our Members, partners, and other key stakeholders to discuss the latest developments and strategies for British companies in the GBA region. Also joining us will be representatives from the British Government, Shenzhen and other GBA local Governments, as well as representatives from British and Chinese companies in Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau, and from other parts of China.

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