China Trade Tracker Released | Issue 6 - December 2022
Issue Six provides an overview of the impact of Chinese trade in the second quarter 2022 and detailed analysis of each region across the whole of the UK. It draws on Government, HMT, DIT and ONS data, compiled by CBBC's specialist analysts.
North and Midlands sees surge in exports to China
Strong growth in exports of medicinal and pharmaceutical products, professional, scientific and controlling instruments and manufactures of metal
Parts of the country saw a strong recovery in trade between the UK and China in the second quarter of 2022, according to new analysis from the China-Britain Business Council, as the Chinese economy recovers from severe lockdown earlier this year.
In April, Chinese exports and imports valued in US Dollars grew only 2.1% year-on-year, the slowest increase since the height of the pandemic in June 2020.
There were, however, some signs of success. Figures show significant year-on-year increases in UK export values for medicinal & pharmaceutical products (up 19% from £275m to £329m), professional, scientific & controlling instruments (up 25% from £153m to £192m) and manufactures of metal (up 61% from £34m to £55m), which all performed better YoY in Q2 2022.
While exports to China fell across most regions of the UK, Yorkshire and the Humber saw goods exports increase 41% year-on-year – the biggest rise in the country – fuelled primarily by surging petroleum exports, up nearly 680%.
Other parts of the country, including the wider North of England, also proved relatively resilient, with rises in export values from the North East (+1.4% YoY), the North West (+3.9%) as well as the East Midlands (+3.7% YoY).
Wales – which saw the strongest growth in goods exports to China out of any UK region in Q1 – continued to benefit from Chinese demand for power generating machinery and specialised machinery, improving its goods exports in Q2 by 36% year-on-year.
The report comes as the spotlight once again turns on UK-China relations, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently using his speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to outline his vision for foreign policy, saying he would focus on “standing up to our competitors, not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism.” The UK would be “stronger in defending our values”, he said, while avoiding “simplistic Cold War rhetoric”.
The day before, Minister for the Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Australia’s National Press Club, “We cannot afford to do anything other than focus on this region…In short, this region is critical to the UK - to our economy, our security and to the international rules-based system, that both our countries cherish.”
UK goods exports to China have grown a staggering 495% over the past 15 years, making China the UK’s third largest goods trading partner.
Despite this, the G7 countries and Australia all export more to China than the UK.
Andrew Seaton, CBBC Chief Executive, said:
“The UK and China have a long history of trade and diplomatic ties going back over 400 years. With the right guardrails in place, we can enjoy a pragmatic trading relationship that works for the national interest, while standing up for our values.
“This is vital for supporting British jobs and our economy, particularly as we face some of the toughest challenges in a generation.
“The UK’s goods exports to China are very much concentrated on tapping into China’s growing consumer market – and not sensitive, strategic areas such as semiconductors, which are the top exports for the USA and Japan. Chinese consumers see ‘made in the UK’ as a mark of quality, and our automotive and food and drink products are particularly in demand.
“As the second largest economy in the world and with a growing middle-class, the Chinese market represents a unique opportunity for UK businesses – one that we cannot afford to waste if we are going to make Global Britain a reality.”
About China-Britain Business Council
The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) is the UK’s leading business network supporting trade, education and investment links with China. Our membership includes over 400 UK businesses and universities.
Since 1954 we have acted as the independent voice of business, and past Chairs include Lord Powell, former foreign affairs advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Sir David Brewer, former Lord Mayor of the City of London. The current President is Lord Sassoon, and the current Chair is Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.
Members include some of the most recognisable British businesses such as abrdn, Arup, Atkins, BP, Diageo, EY, HSBC, IHG Hotels and Resorts, Jaguar Land Rover, KPMG, Legal & General, PwC, Reckitt, Rio Tinto, Smith+Nephew, and Standard Chartered.
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