With uncertainty over Brexit, many commentators believed that the UK would lose its appeal for Chinese investors, but research carried out in the last two years suggests otherwise.
Trade between the UK and China more than doubled in 2017 to hit a record £22.3 billion according to analysis done by the law firm Baker Mckenzie. Trade and investment between the two countries is stronger in some areas of the economy than others, but overall a post-Brexit UK will offer more opportunities to Chinese investors than when Britain was in the EU.
Although the exact type of Brexit Britain will implement and its future relationship with the EU is still being thrashed out, “so-far Brexit has not suppressed Chinese investment into the UK – in fact the opposite as the weaker pound has attracted foreign money, ” Ed Ratcliffe, Head of Advisory at Asia House, the UK’s centre of expertise on Asia, told Truly Belong.
London’s property market remains a key investment opportunity for the Chinese and in 2017 China became the biggest single investor by value in London property. £3.69 billion was spent on the London property market by Chinese investors in 2017, according to Reuters.
Chinese investors have snapped up a number of famous London landmarks including the so-called ‘Cheesegrater’ building’ and the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, both in the City of London.
But Chinese investment in UK property has not been restricted just to London. According to a recent report by the China Britain Business Council and the consultancy group TMF inquiries from Chinese investors in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh have seen three-digit increases. A growing number of English football teams, including Aston Villa and Southampton, also now have Chinese owners. And there have been Chinese investments in some key UK infrastructure projects, such as a new business park near Manchester airport and new direct flights from Manchester to Beijing and Shanghai.
Energy and Technology
One of the most well-known and controversial Chinese investments in the UK is the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Hinkley Point C will be the first nuclear power plant to be built in the UK in over 20 years and will be constructed by a consortium comprised of French energy giant EDF and China’s CGN, which has a 33.5% stake in the project.
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