As the last leg of a series of events to launch its China-Britain Belt and Road Case Studies Report around China, CBBC held a seminar at the British Centre in Shanghai on 16 January, attended by 20 of the top British and Chinese companies active in countries along the Belt and Road routes, as well as senior officials including Tony Clemson, the UK’s deputy consul-general in Shanghai, Jeff Astle, executive director of the China-Britain Business Council, and Madam Zhong Xiaomin, vice-chair of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.
CBBC’s report, produced with Tsinghua University, shows 20 examples of ongoing collaboration between UK and Chinese companies in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Companies such as Alibaba, HSBC, BP, KPMG and Linklaters are working on Sino-UK projects worth some US$27 billion in these regions. (Download the report free here.)
Speaking at the seminar, CBBC executive director Jeff Astle said companies “should take a long-term view” as the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) enters a new phase of development. Its legacy is likely to extend beyond our generation, he said.
Deputy consul-general Tony Clemson said that the UK government was keen to contribute to the BRI to make it a success, explaining that many countries along the Belt and Road have historic ties with the UK, and that Chinese companies could benefit from the experience and expertise of UK companies in third markets. The UK will also continue to push London as a key offshore centre for renminbi trade, he confirmed.
Madam Zhong announced that between January and November 2016, Shanghai’s overseas direct investment amounted to US$338 billion. She set out the five measures that the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce is taking to further promote the BRI, including:
- Building up trade networks along the Belt and Road routes. Shanghai has signed MOUs with 16 BRI countries.
- Holding exhibitions and forums such as this one to strengthen international collaboration.
- Setting up national product-exhibition centres, such as those showcasing Thai and Russian goods in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. Shanghai has set up a special Trade and Investment Cooperation Platform.
- Providing practical guidance and services for outbound Chinese companies, including financial and investment-protection services and social media channels.
- Improving risk-mitigation training for outbound companies.
Considerations for businesses
Key considerations identified by companies at the seminar included the importance of working with a dedicated local team in foreign markets, identifying appropriate partners and making use of respective strengths.
Topics also included China’s latest foreign currency remittance policy; the importance of having in-market Mandarin-speaking teams; and how UK banks could be more flexible when dealing with private Chinese companies. Henry Bath and Qingshan Group exchanged ideas on building metal storage facilities in ports in Belt and Road countries.
During a session on the construction industry, Shanghai Urban Construction Group International Engineering, Arcplus (Huadong Construction Group), Shanghai Construction Group, Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) and Shanghai Electric Power Construction Co described their projects in Belt and Road countries.
Yang He of Shanghai Electric Power Construction Co said, “From a humble 6000 MW power plant in the 1950s to 900,000 MW today, we have grown into the leader in this industry. We are now going with a new business model of working with investors to secure EPC projects.”
Lan Li of Shanghai Construction Group mentioned that although his company had not yet invested in the UK, it was interested in working with British professional services firms to develop markets in Belt and Road countries.
The food and beverage, banking, legal and mining industries were also represented at the event.
The China-Britain Business Council is now working with UK businesses to prepare our next BRI report. We have a dedicated China Outbound team working with companies from both countries, especially Chinese companies with outbound development plans.
For information please contact:
Weifeng Ma, Director, China Outbound Programme
T: +86 (0) 21 3100 7900 ext. 147
Charlie Zeng, Assistant Director, China Outbound Programme
T: +86 (0) 10 8525 1111 ext. 312
Thank you to the sponsors of this event: