These are complicated times, and relations between the UK and China are no exception. But amidst all the uncertainties, there are compelling opportunities in the Chinese market.
In fact, prospects look better than ever.
Trade between the UK and China continues to rise. In 2018 there was an increase of 2.3% over the previous year to GBP 68.5bn.
On the domestic front, China is strengthening intellectual property laws. Trademark squatting has been an issue faced by foreign companies for some time – a revision to its trademark law will see better protections introduced. Talks are meanwhile continuing over China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, of which the UK is a natural partner, and in growing industries like fintech.
The 10th Economic and Financial Dialogue between the UK and China was held in London, for example, to deepen cooperation on financial services. SMEs, who are reportedly finding China more attractive, are also seeing a degree of success. There are stories from every county.
In 2018 Norwich-based Gnaw Chocolate launched its products in China, among other markets, and Derby-based Artisan Biscuits makes a portion of its sales in China.
China’s a steep learning curve
Yet, as ongoing issues demonstrate, China is not without its challenges. Misunderstandings can and do occur, and brands on occasion get it wrong. China has many differences to the UK, and it pays to do your homework. Understanding its cultural nuances is critical, as is being out there in person to build relationships through face-to-face meetings. But a week there and back won’t cut it – we suggest getting out there at least three times before viable relationships are established.
But for those who are patient, committed and flexible, the rewards are there: the saying goes as “everything could be difficult, but anything is possible in China.”
James Cowper Kreston are currently working with businesses in China setting up in the UK and UK companies wanting to work in China. For more information please contact Alex Peal on [email protected] or on +44 (0)118 9590261.