THE BLOG

China, Does it Matter to Britain?

04/11/2014 17:15 GMT | Updated 04/01/2015 10:59 GMT

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Image Courtesy of Jason Mrachina

China has always been the one of the world's largest economy's, with its State-Owned-Enterprises (SOEs) using up much of its resources, and to an extent crowding out the private sector.

David Cameron's visit during the first week of December 2013 was just one initiative by the British Government to engage with what many predict will be the world's largest economy by 2030 and follows visits by both George Osborne, British Chancellor, and Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to reduce the number of state run monopolies and allow the growing private sector to accelerate its integration with state owned industries. Even forming joint ventures.

So why does any of this matter to British business? Well, with the rise in incomes, especially among the growing middle class, China represents a very unusual opportunity for the export of quality British made goods across all sectors.

In my opinion, healthcare will grow hugely within China over the next two decades as its one baby policy and long lived population clash in a tidal wave of elderly care requirement.

An added burden for the Chinese authorities will be the insistence by Western Governments that China improves its human rights record and takes better care of its workers, young people and the elderly. With this will come opportunities for British entrepreneurs to supply branded goods which are so coveted by the Chinese. Yes, they can probably make them cheaper, but many Chinese people see British goods as better made, or at least carrying more gravitas.

It is reported that there are six adults supporting every new baby born in China so financially at least a new baby can expect to be spoiled. I wonder whether many self respecting Chinese aunts or uncles would want to turn up for a christening or birth party with something seen as 'ordinary' when they can arrive with a baby bottle with "Made in Britain" stamped on the bottom?

Distance is something to consider when exporting to China. As an example the distance from Leiyang a City with around 1.3 million people to Fushun which has over 2 million inhabitants is about 1200 miles, roughly the distance from London to Barcelona by car. Many people will not have heard of either of these two cities which isn't surprising because both are fairly typical and are replicated all over the country. Birmingham as an example would be quite a small Chinese city but is the second largest, after London, in the UK.

Although China borders both the East and South China Sea's, giving it huge trade opportunity, it also shares a land border with, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Bhutan, Laos, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Burma, Pakistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, India, Nepal, and of course the enigma that is North Korea, all of which will develop over the coming decades and present further opportunities for savvy British exporters.

So will the SMEs among the many British Exporters who occupy this market get the help they need from the Government? In my opinion the answer is yes. You only have to look at how The Prime Minister, Chancellor, and the Mayor of London fill up their overworked diaries to see that this Government takes exports seriously, especially to China.

George Osborne grasped the nettle and focused on bringing the Chinese currency market to the City of London which in fairness left his opposite numbers in Germany and France floundering for words.

Politics aside this was a clever initiative and proves the power of focus. George just eased past his rivals and delivered something of which I believe has been understated and more importantly underestimated. Its significance will be felt for years to come.

All politicians should recognise the power of Asia as an export market. Given the size of the population, and its growing importance, the UK should be assisting its many businesses, large and small, with easier financing, assistance with introductions, educational courses and even free language tutorials.

We simply must focus on selling to these fast growing economies who are hungry for quality British goods.

I would urge anyone wanting to enter this lucrative market to look at joining one of the many associations, and also writing to the commercial department of the British Embassy for advice. That's what they're there for. Its easy to look up on the Internet and should be the first place to visit if you know nothing of exporting.

Exports for a small country like the UK are in a way its lifeblood so any business wanting to enter the market should be encouraged and supported by everyone including Government and opposition.

Creating the money a country needs to expand and improve its public services such as Education, NHS and care for the elderly, is the function of its entrepreneurs and business community. Spending what is made responsibly is the responsibility of everyone, but especially the government.