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Tuesday, 5 December 2023

The economic relationship between the UK and China

The relationship between the UK and China has strengthened significantly of the years. In the past few decades China has grown to become one of the UK biggest export markets and in recent years the UK has hit new trade records with the country.

In 2019, China represented an export market worth £30.7bn to the UK and an import market worth £49bn, these record holding figures come after years of consecutive growth spurred on by huge infrastructure projects.

In addition to lively important and export markets, state owned and private Chinese run corporations also hold significant interests in British infrastructure and own majority stakes of several nuclear plants as well as having significant stakes in Thames Water and Heathrow airport. They have invested billions into acquiring UK businesses such as British Steel and carmaker Geely and many other businesses, saving thousands of jobs and helping to modernise industries in the UK.

Chinese technology companies like Huawei have also been heavily investing in the UK since the early noughties and are heavily involved in the countries basic telecoms infrastructure, inextricably linking the economic interests of the UK and China. The recent announcement that Huawei will no longer be involved in rolling out 5G technology in the UK has caused some strain to the relationship between the countries, but it’s unlikely to have a negative or lasting impact on the strong trade relationship between the nations.

Chinese students also make up a significant portion of the student body of universities in the UK, with many reliant on the revenue they earn from the tuition fees that they bring in. With China’s emerging market continuing to grow, many experts are predicting that the trend of increasing trade between the countries will continue and the UK will no doubt see yet more records for Chinese imports and exports.

Courtney Rowe
Courtney Rowe
Courtney Rowe is business correspondent covering UK and international business stories. Previously, she was health correspondent, delivering exclusive stories on gender pay inequality, NHS finances, the death in care of patients with learning disabilities and autism, and preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

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