In a significant move to foster stronger ties, the United Kingdom is poised to dispatch its largest business delegation to China in the last four years, to partake in the upcoming China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS). Approximately 60 prominent British companies and organizations are slated to engage in policy dialogues with their Chinese counterparts during the event, as reported by the Global Times.
The UK, designated as the Guest Country of Honor for CIFTIS, is set to play a pivotal role in the event scheduled to take place from September 2 to 6 in Beijing. With over 70 collaborative events on the agenda, the UK aims to explore avenues for accelerating their trade partnership with China. The UK Embassy in China shared a statement on Tuesday, highlighting their intent.
Heading the delegation will be an official from the Department for Business and Trade. This forthcoming UK delegation will mark the largest business entourage sent to China in the last four years, as noted in the statement.
The roster of business partners for the UK Pavilion at the 2023 CIFTIS includes notable names such as AstraZeneca China, HSBC, BP China, Standard Chartered, Pearson, Thoughtworks, Clifford Chance, CIMA, and Schroders.
Tom Duke, head of the Department for Business and Trade in China, emphasized, “As China’s development continues, an increasing number of individuals value the services in which the UK excels. Be it financial services like pensions and insurance, or contributions to healthcare and environmental improvement, we perceive substantial potential for UK-China business collaboration.”
Keith Bennett, vice chairman of the 48 Group Club, underlined the robust commercial relationship between the two nations, revealing the business community’s keenness for strong China ties. Bennett also highlighted the alignment between China’s strengths in R&D, innovation, and emerging tech sectors and Britain’s advanced experiences in these domains.
Data from the British Office for National Statistics revealed that in 2022, the UK’s services exports to China escalated by 7.2%, reaching £670 million ($845 million). Simultaneously, services imports from China surged by 34.6%, amounting to £800 million.
China and the UK have sustained a noteworthy average annual growth rate of 12.2% in trade in services from 1997 to 2020.
Geraldine McCafferty, deputy head of the British Embassy in Beijing, emphasized that being designated as the Country of Honor for the 2023 CIFTIS is an opportunity the UK aims to fully leverage. The UK intends to showcase the success of its dynamic and sustainable services sector and seeks to uncover new opportunities beyond traditional domains.
Analysts recognize the importance of China-UK cooperation, particularly in a global landscape fraught with multiple challenges. Although some British politicians have aligned with anti-China stances, there is consensus on the necessity to enhance commercial relationships between the two countries.
The upcoming official visit of UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, James Cleverly, to China, holds potential to improve bilateral relations, as analysts speculate.
In summary, the UK’s ambitious delegation to the CIFTIS event signifies a significant step towards deepening collaboration and understanding between the UK and China, as both nations navigate complex international dynamics.