Posted on May 22 2018

Source: Global Times 2018-05-22

China has made enormous progress during the past four decades since it announced the opening-up of its market to foreign investors, and both Chinese and UK firms will pursue further cooperation along the routes of the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, a UK business leader said.

In the previous 40 years, the most remarkable achievement by the Chinese government was to lift many Chinese people out of poverty, Lord James Sassoon, chairman of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), told the Global Times on Sunday.

China's opening-up also helps to boost imports of goods including sports cars, Scotch whisky and car engines as well as services from the UK, the CBBC chairman said.

As China is stepping up efforts to open its financial market and the UK is the largest exporter of financial services in the world, companies from both countries will see many opportunities in sectors like insurance and banking, Sassoon noted.

"The new opportunity is to work together on B&R Initiative projects where the fit between British professional services and Chinese construction and engineering expertise is perfectly matched," he said.

English laws, the preferred legal basis for international construction and other big projects, are already being used in many B&R projects, Sassoon said, noting that a B&R agreement is expected to be signed by the Chinese and UK governments by the end of this year.

Talking about the challenges that UK companies are facing when doing business with China, Sassoon said that China has made some very significant steps forward in the legal framework and the enforcement of intellectual property (IP) protection, but IP is still a major concern for British businesses.

Sassoon (Sassoon) also shared his views with Global Times (GT) reporter Huang Ge about the cooperation prospects for Chinese and UK enterprises.

GT: China's Ministry of Commerce said in February that China and the UK will set up a fintech center in the Xiongan New Area, North China's Hebei Province. What do you think of the plan?

Sassoon: The heart of this is a recognition that China has had for a number of years about the strength of London as the world's most innovative financial services center.

Working on fintech ideas between the UK and China is one of the most productive areas.

As one of the future areas of cooperation, the London-Shanghai Stock Connect program will be another example. Fintech is very important and Xiongan is very important. But it's not going to be limited to the new area.

GT: The China International Import Expo (CIIE) will be held in November in Shanghai. What expectations do UK business groups have for the expo?

Sassoon: This is great news for many countries including the UK. The opportunities are so enormous.

The CIIE is going to provide a very useful focus for boosting the confidence of many British exporters in working with China. I believe that British businesses will be very visible [at the expo].