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Leading Chinese firms in London gather at forum

By Cecily Liu in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-01-19 04:09

Britain and China are set to embark on a new chapter of collaboration connected to opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative, according to political and business leaders who gathered at a forum in London on Thursday.

The event, which was hosted by the China Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom, which is also known as CCCUK, was attended by around 200 government representatives and business leaders. It explored new areas for China-UK cooperation within the context of a post-Brexit market and under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

"China and the UK have huge potential and a promising future in Belt and Road collaboration," said Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK. "It is my hope that both Chinese and British businesses will step up cooperation and work together to explore third markets along the Belt and Road."

To turn the potential into reality, Liu offered three suggestions: align business collaboration with the two countries' development strengths; explore collaboration opportunities in higher value-added sectors; and build tri-party collaboration.

The British government is a staunch supporter of the initiative.

"London is the natural Western end to the Belt and Road," said Lord Mayor of the City of London Charles Bowman. "In London, we have the knowledge, as well as highly liquid debt and equity capital markets, with a large global investor base. This makes us an important partner for China."

Last year, the City of London led the creation of a Green Belt and Road Investor Alliance, to encourage the funding of environmentally friendly projects in the area covered by the Belt and Road Initiative. This year, it will co-host a Belt and Road forum.

Earlier this month, just ahead of the visit to China of Liam Fox, Britain's international trade secretary, the British government announced 25 billion pounds of funding to support the initiative.

Meanwhile, private-sector businesses are already taking opportunities. In 2017, China's Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment launched the first direct freight train from Yiwu to London. And, also in 2017, ICBC Standard Bank launched a Belt and Road index, to help investors monitor opportunities in the 65 countries covered by the initiative.

Sun Yu, chairman of CCCUK, said discussions at Thursday's forum were helpful in turning the concept of Belt and Road collaboration into implementation.

"I see huge potential, the industry is smart and creative enough to find solutions," said Sun.

After the forum, CCCUK hosted a gala dinner in the Great Hall at the Guildhall in the City of London.

CCCUK was founded in 2001, to promote trade and investment between China and the UK. It has almost 200 member companies, mainly Chinese companies with operations in the UK.

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