From November 28th - 30th, the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) together with CCPIT Shenzhen held their highly anticipated 5th China Outbound Conference in Shenzhen to highlight the fantastic trade and cooperation opportunities between China and the UK.
The event was supported by the British Consulate General Guangzhou, British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, British Chamber of Commerce in Guangdong and several leading Chinese investment institutions.
In his keynote address, CBBC's Chairman Lord Sassoon predicted the key areas of future China-UK cooperation to lie in nuclear energy and technology. He further highlighted the Belt and Road initiative as a great China-UK connector, which would continue to stimulate the cross-cultural business discourse between China and the rest of the world. According to Sassoon, consumer sentiment had increased significantly over the past 2 years, leading to a stronger and more outwardly focused China."The relaxation of regulatory restriction, particularly in the banking sector, will further aid business growth", said Sassoon.
Other opening keynotes were held by representatives of the Department for International Trade China, the British Embassy, City of London, the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, the Economist and the Shenzhen Government.
Our Cocoon Networks Founder and CEO John Zai joined the panel discussion titled 'London calling Chinese investors' which investigated the UK's great appeal to Chinese investors. The discussion was moderated by Jeff Cao, Head of Asia Pacific at London & Partners, and was joined by panelists Sherry Madera, Special Advisor for Asia at City of London Corporation, Katie Kopec, Principal Adviser Regeneration and Development at London & Partners, John Miu, Chief Operating Officer at ABP (London) Investment Limited and Suwin Lee, Head of UK/ Greater China Business Services at Ernst & Young LLP.
The overall consensus of the discussion was that London continues to be a leading destination for Chinese investment and presents great opportunities, especially in the wake of Brexit.
Traditionally, Chinese investment to London came from the service sectors, but in the last 2-3 years there was a strong shift towards tech. Chinese companies are actively going to the UK to search High Tech opportunities – either for research collaboration or investment into tech companies.
John Zai, Founder & CEO at Cocoon Networks:
“When investing in the UK, Chinese companies are looking to upgrade products, which ties into its Made in China 2025 plan, and the UK, as one of the world’s top innovative countries, has the relevant cutting edge technology and products"
John Zai also recently founded Tech Shanghai Advocates, the first Chinese branch in the Global Tech Advocates network, to link China's tech leaders, entrepreneurs and investors with the rest of the world.
"Despite Brexit, UK’s reputation carries forward as one of the most open and stable economies in the world. London continues to be premier international financial centre. It is also established as the Western Hub for offshore RMB trading with almost two-thirds of all RMB payments outside of China & Hong Kong taking place in London”
The discussion then moved on to the recently exercised capital control by the Chinese government and its effect on London’s property market. Whilst the capital control has indeed led to a global slowdown of Chinese real estate investment, which also affected London, overseas investment from Hong Kong (such as for instance Lee Kum Kee's £1.28 billion acquisition of London’s “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper) is likely to continue, according to the panelists.
Other areas covered in the 5th CBBC China Outbound Conference were Innovation and Technology, Financial Services Industries, Healthcare and Life Sciences, the Consumer and Creative Sector, Hong Kong's Role in China's Outbound Investment and Intelligent Manufacturing.
It became apparent that China's great wealth of FinTech companies and its highly developed e-commerce sector further encourages cross-cultural collaboration. And with London as the world's leading financial centre, UK-China collaboration is continously increasing in banking, insurance, asset management and FinTech.
Going forward into 2018, the Golden Age of Sino-British collaboration promises to continue.
"In the face of the opportunities and challenges of China's new era, both Chinese and British economists are expecting foreign-funded enterprises to reduce their obstacles to growth and gain market recognition. Chinese enterprises can successfully land in Britain and other countries [...] and the interactions will enhance the political and economic relations for all parties"
(Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor of The Economist)
The three day forum culminated in a technology pitching sessions and 1-1 matchmaking meetings.