“Opportunities for UK Businesses in China’s Regional Cities” presents the findings of research conducted in 2011 by CBBC and the Centre for International Business at the University of Leeds (CIBUL) for and on behalf of UKTI. The report takes into account the major economic and political developments that have taken place over the past three years and impacted British businesses and their internationalisation prospects.
This report highlights opportunities in 35 of China’s most dynamic regional cities, and also analyses opportunities in the following business sectors:
Key findings of this research:
- The rate of urbanisation and economic growth together with the government supported development initiatives in each of China’s cities offers considerable opportunities across all business themes for British companies. The more economically advanced the city it follows that the demand and solutions become more niche. The business opportunity tends to be higher up the value chain in those more economically advanced cities matching the skill set offered by UK industry and commerce, especially for SMEs.
- The 35 regional cities identified in this study account for 17 per cent of China’s population, 39 per cent of China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 47 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The concentration of opportunity in these cities is already known to competitors bidding for the same engagement. Competition is not only coming from high profile international firms but also increasingly from nationally developed and regionally developing Chinese firms.
- Although the eastern regions still attract the highest level of FDI to China, the regions which are gaining share of FDI are all northern, western or central provinces including Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Liaoning and Sichuan. Compared to the findings of the 2008 report these provinces now also have a higher number of cities which are more attractive by business activity. These two factors add to the ability to define areas of China as “City Clusters”. This report identifies 12 “City Clusters” which offer equivalent types of thematic opportunity and can also be defined by similar attractiveness levels across a range of business activity, ease of business due to road infrastructure and have equal levels of government structure in order to identify engagement. As such, recognition of these “City Clusters” will help firms adopt a progressive strategy to market entry and market development.
- The greatest challenges and barriers to trade and investment relate to government regulation, policies and bureaucracy. UK companies are not formulating clear strategies in response to this. As in 2008, we have found that UK firms value the support they receive from UK Government and trade promotion organisations (TPOs) in a number of areas including lobbying and representation (especially to raise the profile of UK businesses in regional cities), access to city-level business networks (including local government and businesses, TPOs and other UK companies), and access to general city-level market intelligence and business information (especially about sector-specific business opportunities). It now appears that in addition to this work UK Government and TPOs need to be more active in disseminating information which aids understanding of Chinese government regulation at both a national and local level.
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