Market Access for UK Business in China: Get Your Voice Heard

2017, November 13
Market Access for UK Business in China: Get Your Voice Heard 13th November 2017

Following the referendum to leave the European Union, discussions around future trade relations between the UK and China have entered a new phase. With this in mind, The Department of International Trade (DIT) has been seeking engagement to understand the business environment and market access issues faced by British business in China.

Consequently, a group of British business membership organisations have convened to launch a process whereby feedback can be produced for the benefit of the Government and other stakeholders.


The wider context
UK-China bilateral trade totalled nearly US$ 77.7 billion in 2016, with UK exports to China increasing by 290% over the last 10 years to hit US$ 18.7 billion in the same year. China is currently the 6th largest export market for the UK, with established sectors such as automotive and pharmaceuticals growing strongly over the last five years. Other leading UK sectors such as finance, professional services healthcare and education have also expanded significantly in recent years.


Aims of the process
The aims of the process are the following:

  • To provide a channel to represent the views and experiences of members into the UK and Chinese policy-makers and regulators.
  • To help identify and prioritise policy and regulatory issues or developments with the greatest potential to benefit UK business seeking to invest into, enter or grow their business in and with China, and vice-versa.
  • To provide a mechanism to advise the DIT on impact and risks related to changes to the business landscape in China.
  • To communicate and provide feedback to members.


Stakeholders and partners
Six British business membership organisations will be involved in the process:

  • The British Chambers of Commerce in China: China, Shanghai, Southwest and Guangdong
  • The China Britain Business Council (CBBC)
  • The Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

A working group steering committee has been established which includes Nicholas Holt (BCCC/Knight Frank), Jeff Astle (CBBC), Julian MaCormac (BCCC/Rolls Royce), Guy Dru Drury (CBI), Steven Lynch (BCCC) and Dominic Feroze (BCCC). The steering committee are responsible for the overall process, including managing stakeholder relations, methodology and quality control.

The Department of International Trade (DIT) while working closely with the groups is not a formal stakeholder in the process. The project is therefore not an internal DIT entity such as those set out in Cabinet Office guidelines on the Classification of Public Bodies.

Wider stakeholders could include trade associations, non-member British businesses involved in China, Chinese businesses and regulators and the Chinese government.


Process activity
To address the project aims, working groups will be set up around the following sector groups:

  • Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Legal Services
  • Healthcare
  • Property and Infrastructure
  • Retail/F&B
  • Creative Industries

Each of these sector groups has set up a sub-committee including representatives of the British Chamber of Commerce in China, the CBBC sector leads and for relevant sectors, representatives from the Shanghai, South West and Guangdong chambers. The groups will also liaise and work closely with the sector leads from DIT who will not officially be a member of the working groups, but rather ex-officio participants.


The key initial objectives of the working groups are to identify:

  • The current state of the sector for British business in China;
  • The working group’s collective view on the priority issues that limit the ability of UK firms to conduct business in China;
  • The working group’s collective view on wider dependencies that limit the ability of UK firms to conduct business in China;
  • The working group’s collective recommendations on what needs to change to improve the ability of UK firms to conduct business in China.

In order to meet these objectives, the sub-committees will meet and carry out secondary research to produce a consistent “state of the sector” output that will identify the parameters of the sector in relation to British business in China. Following the secondary research, key questions will be identified which will then be applied to working group members, in a structured focus group discussion. Group discussions with the wider membership will initially be carried out in Beijing, but for certain sectors could alternate with the other cities going forward.

In terms of frequency, working groups will meet on a quarterly basis but can choose to meet in any extraordinary session.



  • Pre-working group briefings: 3 – 17 November 2017
  • Working group meetings 1+2: November and January 2018
  • Survey & Interviews: April 2018
  • Post-working group review: 1st March 2018
  • First round of working group reports completed: Mid April 2018
  • Second round working group reports completed: end of May 2018


Limitations and disclaimers

  • While the six membership organisations account for a significant proportion of British business in China (approximately 1,500 small and large organisations), there is an acknowledgement that it will not be fully representative.
  • The process will not involve lobbying or advocating on behalf of any individual company


Key contacts
Nicholas Holt
British Chamber of Commerce in China (BCCC)

Steven Lynch
British Chamber of Commerce in China (BCCC)

Ben Metcalf
British Chamber of Commerce Southwest (BCCSW)

Barry Kirkwood
British Chamber of Commerce Guangdong (BCCGZ)

Phil Roebuck
British Chamber of Commerce Shanghai (BCCS)

Dominic Feroze
British Chamber of Commerce in China (BCCC)

Jeff Astle
The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC)

Michael Ryan
The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC)

Guy Dru Drury
The Confederation of British Industry  (CBI)

Want to become a member?