UK firms eager for Chinese markets

Updated: 2011-01-11 07:15

By Zhang Haizhou and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

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British businesses interested in views of China's visiting vice-premier

LONDON - UK businesses hope that China will continue opening its markets to foreign investors, said a senior British business leader as Vice-Premier Li Keqiang visits the country.

"What British businesses would like to hear (are) his views in terms of China being open to foreign business - in particular UK businesses - and that they are welcomed to continue to invest in China," said Stephen Phillips, chief executive of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC).

He added that UK businesses would also be interested in Li's views on "the outlook for the Chinese economy against the backdrop of the global economic environment".

Accompanied by some 120 Chinese business leaders, Li arrived in the UK on Sunday. This is the first visit by a senior Chinese leader to the UK since the coalition government came into office.

Li is scheduled to address a banquet at the CBBC on Tuesday night.

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Noting that Li's visit is "absolutely important", Phillips said that "a stronger and good political relationship is a very important foundation for the business relationship".

British businesses see "the reshaping of the Chinese economy - from one that has been largely export-led to one that is increasingly led by domestic demand - as a great opportunity for further cooperation between China and UK companies", he said, adding many UK companies are "very committed" to China.

The London-based CBBC is the leading organization helping UK companies grow and develop their business in China. Its mission is to help UK companies "access the full potential of the fastest growing market in the world".

China is the UK's second-biggest trading partner after the EU, while London is Beijing's third-biggest trade partner in the 27-nation bloc. Trade in goods for the first 10 months of 2010 hit a record high of $40.2 billion.

Some 6,000 UK companies have invested in China, making Britain the biggest European investor in the country.

But despite the exciting figures, Phillips said there are "still certain sectors where there are limitations" in China for "foreign participation" - namely, the automotive industry, financial services and the mining industry.

"And obviously what foreign businesses would like to see is the continued opening up of all these sectors, so that investors both from overseas and from China are treated on an equal basis," he said.

Phillips also mentioned the concern over the protection of intellectual property in China when asked about EU's high-tech export restriction.

The UK's strength in high-end manufacturing industries, like airplane engine making, is attractive to China.

"UK companies are keen to sell advanced engineering and technology to China - but at the same time they do have concerns about protection of intellectual property," Phillips said, suggesting Chinese government strengthen law enforcement to protect intellectual property rights.


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