West of England China Bureau has urged businesses in the region to press ahead with plans to establish closer links with China – despite the economic uncertainty triggered by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
That’s according to bureau company secretary Paul Hardman who commented: “The last thing businesses should do is slam the brakes on closer connectivity with China – this will be more important than ever given the uncertainties over our relationship with the rest of Europe.
“In times like these when the business landscape suddenly looks so uncertain, it is the cultural and academic exchanges and projects that will survive and will form the building blocks of new co-operation, trust and business as the UK looks to new horizons to create new trading relationships.”
Paul said Britain was seen in China as a gateway to – or shop window on – the European market.
“We do not know what the relationship of the UK with the EU will look like – it might still be a gateway or shop window to or on European markets but when dealing with foreign companies thinking about investing the less explaining and the less uncertainty the better.
“We are entering a period of uncertainty and when the dust settles we will be need to spell out our future relationship with the EU in straightforward terms.
“If the UK is going to be successful in its trade relationships it is going to have to re-double its efforts in the future.”
Paul is a corporate and commercial lawyer with Gregg Latchams solicitors and has been advising SME clients for more than 20 years on commercial agreements, corporate deals and governance issues.
He said he first went to China in 2010 and learnt a number of valuable lessons.
“The first was the way that Chinese businessmen do business. The business relationship starts with cultural exchanges – building an understanding of personal, historic and cultural background – then they really appreciate non-financial based co-operation, in particular research, development and academic exchanges.
“Finally the Chinese, having won and achieved trust, are ready to do business. It appears Brexit may have knocked this confidence and we need to rebuild this trust.”
Bristol and West of England China Bureau has been in existence promoting cultural, academic and business exchange between Bristol and the West Country and China since 1998 supported by our members, sponsors and Bristol City Council.
Paul concluded: “We look forward to playing an increasing role in help the UK forge a separate relationship outside the EU with China, building on the great work of many of our supporters.”