British companies in China optimistic about Brexit’s effect

  • Nearly two-thirds of UK businesses in mainland China say they don’t think Brexit will affect revenue, while 47 per cent say effect will be positive
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 7:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 8:07pm

British companies in China say the UK’s exit from the European Union could boost business in the Asian giant, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

Nearly half of 212 British companies that took part in the survey, or 47 per cent, think Brexit could have a positive impact on business if London and Beijing strike a free-trade agreement, according to the British Chambers of Commerce in China.

Fewer than eight per cent think the opposite.

Some 27.6 per cent of surveyed British firms said they believed continued uncertainty over Brexit would have a negative impact on their revenue in China, while 61.1 per cent said it would have no bearing.

Overall, the survey results showed a high level of optimism among British companies in China, despite geopolitical uncertainties in the global economy, such as the US-China trade war and the slowdown of China’s economy.

We urge policymakers to ... ensure fair and reciprocal treatment for British companies
Nicholas Holt, British Chamber of Commerce

About two-thirds of respondents said they were optimistic about the business outlook for their industry for the next two years, and a similar number said they intended to increase investment in their China operations over the next 12 months.

Still, China’s business climate is a concern for some British companies. Almost a third said it has deteriorated in the past year, while just 19 per cent said it improved.

Among the top difficulties that firms face in China, British businesses cited intellectual property rights protection, and cybersecurity and information technology restrictions – including internet access and the monopolisation of big data.

“We urge policymakers to address these to ensure fair and reciprocal treatment for British companies in market,” stated Nicholas Holt, chair of the British Chamber, in a press release on the report.

Separately, China issued on Tuesday a policy paper on the European Union in which it said it “hopes to see Brexit proceed in an orderly fashion and stands ready to advance China-EU and China-UK relations in parallel”.