Bilingual Story

Olympic-size gains in UK-China trade and investment

One of China's top retailers has opened its first overseas flagship store, choosing to locate in the UK on a world-famous shopping destination, London's Bond Street.

The move, a 35 million pounds investment by Bosideng, is just one part of the growing and increasingly important investment and trade links between China and the United Kingdom that have been boosted by billions of pounds' worth of business in recent weeks, creating many jobs.

Other examples include Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings acquiring the UK gas company, Wales & West Utilities, in a two billion pounds investment, and the Chinese manufacturer Tunbow Group announcing the launch of its first subsidiary in the UK - Aves Digital Ltd - in a two million pounds investment.

From its new base in the vibrant new city of Milton Keynes, north of London, Aves Digital will design and market digital DAB+ radios, Bluetooth wireless speakers and docking stations.

UK manufacturer AGA Rangemaster has reached agreement with Vatti, a leading Chinese supplier of household appliances on distribution and product development, and China Southern Airlines is to open offices at Heathrow airport.

The airline recently launched a new route from Guangzhou to Heathrow, the first direct flight from southern mainland China to the UK, and announced that it will introduce an additional three services per week for the 2012/13 winter season.

China's Eve Group is planning to open its European headquarters in the UK early next year (2013) in an investment estimated at 10 million pounds. Meanwhile, the BRE construction consultancy announced that UK companies have won more than 600,000 pounds' worth of construction contracts for the Beijing Green Building Park, with more contracts in the pipeline.

The UK firms, which include BRE, Macfarlane Wilder architects, Bogle Architects and Arup, have all secured commissions with Vanke, China's largest real estate developer, which is responsible for the Beijing Park.

The most recent contracts awarded by Vanke are to Bogle/Arup for the design of the new visitor centre for the park, and to BRE for the pre-qualification selection process for the first Innovation House on the Park. The Beijing Park, modelled on the BRE Innovation Park in the UK at Watford, is due to open in mid-September 2012.

China's NVC Lighting Technology Corporation earlier this year opened a second warehouse facility in Birmingham as part of its continuing expansion plans in the UK. The 10 million pounds investment doubled the lighting manufacturer’s UK operation and the size of its workforce.

NVC Group's chief financial officer Anthony Tan said: “NVC considers the UK to be a flexible place for foreign companies to invest, with current employment laws, government-backed incentives and regional grants all adding to an inviting business environment.

"We also see the UK as a good springboard to start operations in mainland Europe and Commonwealth markets. The Midlands is a particularly good location, given its excellent network of motorways and its depth of manufacturing and engineering expertise," he added.

In north-west England, architecture business BDP, which has its headquarters in Manchester, has won a series of contracts from China. The firm has been appointed by Shanghai Bund Investment to provide architecture, landscape and lighting design for the Chinese city’s new 400m pounds Bund X–Change, a 9,600 square-metre development that includes retail, offices, a luxury club, boutique hotel, leisure and car parking.

BDP has also been appointed to plan a new 20m pounds international campus in Suzhou, run as a partnership between the University of Liverpool and Xi'an Jiaotong University, and will also create the masterplan and design the landscaping and architecture for the 32,000 square-metre Artall Tiancheng Business Centre, in Nanjing. The value of the project is 35m pounds.

At a special business summit as London launched the 2012 Olympic Games, senior UK government ministers met leading UK and Chinese industrialists with the aim of fostering trade ties with China, the world's second largest economy.

The China Entrepreneur Club, which groups the leaders of businesses that account for about four per cent of China's gross domestic product (GDP), was a partner in one of the 17 global business summits that took place during the Games, organised by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) , the government's business development organisation.

In 2010, the UK and China agreed to double bilateral trade to 100 billion dollars by 2015. Last year, bilateral trade stood at more than 70 billion dollars.

In figures for 2011 announced by UK Trade & Investment last month, China moved up from seventh to third place as a source of inward investment projects for the UK.

The UK ranks alongside Germany as the largest European investor in China. UK firms won some two billion pounds in business around the time of the 2008 Beijing Games, with Foster + Partners architects designing Beijing International Airport, and Arup providing the engineering services for the spectacular "bird's nest" stadium.

Last year, UKTI helped more than 3,000 UK firms to do business in China. UKTI is now inviting UK firms to bid for high value opportunities in mainland China (potential contracts worth over a quarter of a billion pounds).

These include the design, build and management of hospitals, and energy generation (civil nuclear and wind power). There are a further five high-value opportunities in Hong Kong in the construction, road and rail sectors.

As London hosted the Games, China's industrialists invited by Prime Minister David Cameron to speak at the summit included Mr Liu Chuanzhi, chairman of the China Entrepreneur Club, Madam Sun Yafang, chairwoman of Huawei and Mr Guo Guangchang, co-founder of the Fosun Group.

Among those from the UK were Dame Zaha Hadid, the award-winning architect who designed the Aquatics Centre in London's Olympic Park as well as the Guangzhou Opera House and the Galaxy Soho in Beijing; Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising firm WPP, which is well-established in China, who spoke about building a global brand, and Philip Dilley, group chairman of Arup that has completed hundreds of infrastructure projects in China.

UK ministers emphasised the importance of continued growth in UK-Chinese business links. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "We will continue to do all we can to provide a welcome environment for Chinese business and investment and to support emerging Chinese brands as they take their businesses to the global markets, including the UK."

Energy & Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey spoke about investment opportunities on offer in the UK - especially in the energy sector. "I am particularly pleased to welcome the Chinese delegation. From solar panels to hydropower, Chinese firms are leading the world in developing the innovative, clean energy technologies that will help us respond to climate change."

He said that the UK government is putting in place the measures needed to develop a more balanced, more secure energy portfolio, adding: "Whether it's our surging renewables sector or North Sea oil and gas exploration, new nuclear power or carbon capture and storage, there has never been a better time to invest in the UK’s energy future."

(Source: British Consulate-General in Chongqing)

Editor:Dai Liu