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UK-China trade relations are enjoying a moment of recovery, says UK business chief

UK-China relations are seeing a resurgence in investment and trade ties, particularly in China’s consumer economy and renewable energy, a UK business leader said.

Andrew Seaton, chief executive of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the end of Covid-19 travel restrictions and the potential resumption of business travel have made this possible. China’s importance in restoring growth was clear.

China has set its economic growth target at 5% by 2023, ensuring sustainable and quality growth, which has grabbed headlines around the world.

Photo taken on February 17, 2023 shows the port of Liverpool, UK. (Xinhua/David Rawcliffe)

In terms of the most attractive sectors, Mr Seaton, who was managing director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong from 2015 to 2020, pointed out that China’s consumer economy is particularly attractive to UK companies doing business in China and in China. , particularly in the automotive, fashion and pharmaceutical sectors.

“When you look at the economic outlook for the coming decade, there is tremendous growth in the number of new middle-class consumers in Asia. China is at the center of that,” he said.

As the wealth of Chinese middle-class consumers grows, financial services, wealth management services, healthcare services and, of course, education will all expand, the entrepreneur said.

Mr Seaton was formerly a member of the British Diplomatic Service and has devoted much of his career to UK-China relations. He was Head of the China Department at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the British Embassy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macau Special Administrative Region of China.

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He said cooperation, investment and trade in sectors such as technologies, products and services that would help both the UK and China achieve their net zero emissions targets in the greenhouse effect would be key to future bilateral cooperation.

“There is a real sense that trade relations are moving forward, which is very positive,” Seiden said.