Inaugural UK-China Exchange Forum Held in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai
The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) together with our partners at CIDAUK Incubation Centre were delighted to co-host our inaugural UK-China Exchange Forum, focusing on investment opportunities in the UK. The forum stopped off at three cities (Beijing – 10th April, Shenzhen 17th April and Shanghai 18th April) and was supported by a number of CBBC members who shared their insights on the macro investment climate across the UK and also specifically London, the UK’s world leading education system, the current visa policies and application processes; and future outlooks shaping individual investment decisions.
A special thank you to representatives from PwC, CIDAUK Incubation Centre and VFS Global who joined all forums alongside speakers from the CBBC China team; and, to London and Partners who joined us in Shanghai for the final leg of the tour.
Alongside CIDAUK Incubation Centre we were also delighted to have the support of key industry associations and councils across China including the Taizhou Bay Area China-UK Innovation Center, Beijing Zhongguancun Science City International Talent Exchange Center, Beijing Immigration and Entry Services Association, Chongqing Municipal Association for Private Entry and Exit, Sichuan Province Immigration Association and Guangdong Province Private Immigration Association Shenzhen Branch.
The forum was hosted throughout by Kiran Patel, Senior Director China-Britain Business Council who said:
“As the UK’s national business network promoting trade and investment with China, the China-Britain Business Council was proud in partnership with CIDAUK Incubation Centre to co-host the first UK-China Exchange Forum. We are committed to driving growth in trade and investment relations between China and the UK and through the forum sought to get across clearly the opportunities and advantages of investment, and ease of doing business with the UK.
Despite the Covid 19 pandemic and Brexit, the UK has remained the preferred destination in Europe for Chinese investors and combined exports and imports between the UK and China passed the £100 billion mark for the first-time last year. We expect to see growth continue throughout 2021 and remain optimistic about the future.”
Mr. Guo Xuguang, Vice President of Sichuan Immigration Association, and Mr. Zheng Keyin, President of Chongqing Municipal Association of Private Entry and Exit, attended the forum and delivered speeches as special guests.
The forum addressed several key themes for those in attendance. CBBC’s Education Team provided a comprehensive outlook into the UK’s Education System – showcasing the student journey from Kindergarten through to Post-Graduate Study, assessment and accreditation, and future employability prospects.
Students and their families choose a UK education pathway due to the doors that it can unlock. There are currently over 120,000 Chinese students studying in the UK in Higher Education alone; and according to recent data released by UCAS in the later part of 2020, enrolments from Chinese students into UK universities increased by 31% in 2020
There is also the advantage of being able to do business in English which is the most common second language for Chinese speakers, a pro-business regulatory environment, the highest standards of corporate governance and a legal system that is regarded as world leading.
The UK is one of the safest and friendliest business and investment environments in the world and London continue to be one of the world's leading financial centres. Chinese investors have access to world-class professional services and advice here. The forum welcomed leading experts from PwC on UK tax to provide a comprehensive overview of Tax planning and structures for investors to take into consideration. At 19%, the UK has the lowest direct tax of all G20 countries, significant tax incentives for innovation, lower employer, and employee social security contribution rates than a number of other countries and competitive personal tax rates.
With the value of the Yuan to the Pound Sterling remaining comparatively strong, Brexit uncertainty and Covid factors ensure - UK assets currently offer great value to Chinese investors.
Current market and geo-political conditions mean that challenges and opportunities coexist. With vaccination programmes gathering momentum, global economic activity is expected to return to normal. This will in the best-case scenario lead to a resumption of international travel and access to directly exploring overseas investment opportunities once again. The UK visa system requires demystification for UK visitors and investors. The forum welcomed speakers from CIDAUK Incubation Centre and VFS Global to guide those in attendance through the journey of applying for the correct visa, provide a policy overview and showcase a series of case studies and testimonials.
VFS Global were also present to address the process of making a UK Visa application through their Visa Application Centres across China, highlighting the ease of the process and services available to all applicants. Despite restrictions on travel last year, the UK processed over 997,000 visas throughout 2020 and numbers are expected to get close once again to pre Covid-19 levels once travel corridors once again reopen fully between China and the UK.
With London named as the no.1 city for global opportunity, we were also delighted to welcome London and Partners at the final stop of the forum roadshow in Shanghai to share a macro perspective on investment opportunities in London, exploring sectors, regions, and Chinese success stories. A multitude of sectors including electronics, medical technologies, AI, Internet of Things, education, and the broader creative industries offer a wealth of viable opportunities for investment. Furthermore, the UK and London property market continues to retain its competitiveness to overseas investors.
With the first UK-China Exchange Forum reaching its conclusion, we can reflect on a series of events that provoked discussion and interest from the audience into the UK.
In summing up, Kiran Patel, Senior Director at the China-Britain Business Council said:
“The forum while highlighting the opportunities for investors to explore the UK market, also provided an encouraging sign through the number and focus of those in attendance that there remains strong and undiminished interest in what the UK has to offer.
Chinese investment is also of great importance to the UK. In August 2020, our team at CBBC commissioned a study from Cambridge Econometrics which clearly illustrated the importance of the UK’s economic ties with China with FDI supporting well over 100,000 British jobs across all sectors.
We will continue to give visibility to the right opportunities, explore all avenues where there is complementarity and work with our partners to make the process of investing into, studying and visiting the UK as smooth as possible.”
- Kiran Patel, Senior Director, China-Britain Business Council
For more formation about the first UK-China Exchange Forum, please contact email@example.com
About CIDAUK Incubation Centre
For more than 13 years, CIDAUK has been supporting start-ups, many of which have grown into multi-million pound companies. Through the launch of the CIDAUK Incubation Centre, we will continue to help start-ups to grow by introducing them to well-heeled Chinese investors, who also bring with them the much sought-after business connections and experience in the world’s second largest economy. This unique benefit of the CIDAUK Incubation Centre, coupled with the full supported by our team of global advisors and mentors and academia, offers start-ups the genuine opportunity to participate and succeed in this fast-growing market.