Prime Minister Theresa May flew a delegation of 50 British businesses with her to China this week in an effort to reinvigorate Britain’s place as a global trading nation.
The UK government left China on Friday having managed to secure £9.3bn worth of various deals, including a specific financial services deal worth more than £1 billion. Whilst details of this deal remain largely unknown, it’s been publicly stated that the financial services deal will create 890 new jobs.
China and Britain are in a “golden era” of relations; China views Britain as a crucial ally in its campaign for more open global markets. China has also been appreciative of Britain’s enthusiasm for the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Xi’s Belt and Road initiative to build a new Silk Road. British exports to China have increased by 60 percent since 2010 and totaling some $18bn in 2016 – or 4.4% of total UK exports.
Nevertheless, there have been widespread concerns in the foreign business community about the difficulty of operating in China, and this was an opportunity for British businesses to have discussions with relevant parties about regulations and import restrictions. The delegation of businesses who travelled with the Prime Minister included financial services, technology, automotive, food and drink, energy and infrastructure developers, including BP, Jaguar Land Rover and Whittards, the tea manufacturer.
Speaking to CNBC on the way back to the UK, CEO of fintech company R5FX Jon Vollemaere discussed the level of excitement felt by the businesses as each returned home with a successful story. He highlighted the notion that Brexit had put “the gas on the stove” in terms of relations between the two economies and welcomed the significant level of government support.
See the interview below: