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UK firms in China optimistic about Brexit

By Angus McNeice | China Daily UK | Updated: 2018-12-21 01:26

The majority of British companies operating in China believe the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union will be good for business, according to a new survey.

The British Chambers of Commerce in China, which is also called the BCCC, surveyed 212 UK-owned companies across a dozen sectors in China, representing about 3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) of revenue.

Of those, 47 percent believe that a post-Brexit environment in which the UK is free to pursue its own trade agreements will have a positive impact on business.

Just 8 percent believed this scenario will have a negative impact, while 45 percent anticipate it would have no impact.

BCCC Chairman Nicholas Holt said that the survey offers useful input for the UK Department for International Trade and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce as they conduct an ongoing bilateral trade and investment review.

"With the Brexit process continuing in the UK, the importance of the views of British business being carefully reflected here in China is more important than ever," Holt said.

However, businesses expressed bleaker feelings when asked to consider a "no-deal" scenario, where the UK exits the EU without a new trade and regulatory apparatus in place.

Twentyfour percent of businesses believed a no-deal Brexit would have a negative impact, with 21 percent reporting a positive impact and 55 percent anticipating no impact on business.

The UK is set to leave the EU at the end of March 2019, but Parliament has yet to vote on the Brexit deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May and the leaders of the 27 other EU member states.

The delay to the vote has led to concern that the UK may end up departing the EU without a deal in place. In a policy paper issued on Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry said it hoped for an efficient resolution as Brexit nears.

"China hopes to see Brexit proceed in an orderly fashion and stands ready to advance China-EU and China-UK relations in parallel," the ministry said.

In the survey, when asked about their business prospects in China in general, 65 percent of British companies were optimistic about outlook going forward. However, 31 percent said that doing business in China has become more difficult over the last year.

The survey has listed market access, cybersecurity and IT restrictions as some of the challenges, as well as difficulties obtaining licenses and concerns over intellectual property right protection.

"The importance of China addressing imbalances for foreign business will be essential for the long-term prosperity of the economy," Holt said.

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