China's business leaders optimistic about UK start-up talent

Updated: 2016-10-25 22:43

By Harvey Morris in London(

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Chinese business leaders remain overwhelmingly optimistic about Britain as a good place to start a new business despite the uncertainties generated by the country's decision to quit the European Union, according to a survey published this week.

Barclays Bank questioned 1,350 top executives from global companies doing business with the UK and discovered that in China, Brazil and the U.S. there was greater confidence in the talents of British entrepreneurs than there was among some of the country's leading EU partners.

Eighty-four percent of Chinese executives polled were positive about Britain's potential to create the next Apple or Google. That reflected sentiment in China's BRICS' partner Brazil (88 percent) and in the U.S. (85 percent).

In Europe, opinion was less upbeat post-Brexit. Only 64 percent of Germans polled and 68 percent of French shared the positive view of Britain's start-up capabilities.

However, Chinese executives topped the list of those who said Britain would have to improve its digital skills if their companies were to do more trade with the UK. That was a view expressed by two-thirds of the Chinese business leaders questioned.

Overall, six out of ten executives questioned in the survey said the Brexit vote would not have any impact on the way they did business with UK entrepreneurs.

The survey indicated that foreign business rated British entrepreneurs highly for their reliability, smartness and politeness, but they scored relatively poorly for drive, inspiration and passion. Britain also lagged the U.S. as the place where start-ups were seen as most likely to succeed.

Richard Heggie, Head of High Growth and Entrepreneurs at Barclays, said the survey showed UK entrepreneurs were held in high regard by business leaders globally, particularly in China, Brazil and the US.

"However it's critical that, against the backdrop of Brexit, the UK does everything it can to maintain and crucially build on this. That includes capitalizing on the trade relationships and investment opportunities that the research highlights in order to thrive," he said.

The writer is a senior editorial consultant for China Daily UK.

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