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UK businesses told about Anhui opportunities

By Zheng Wanyin in London | | Updated: 2023-10-18 00:40
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The "Invest in Anhui" promotion conference attracts over 100 guests from various sectors on Oct 16 in London. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A promotional event introducing investment opportunities and benefits in East China's Anhui province was held in London on Monday.

The gathering, which was hosted by the People's Government of Anhui Province and organized by the Anhui Provincial Department of Commerce, attracted more than 100 attendees from various sectors of the Chinese and British political and business communities.

11 cooperation projects and three cooperation agreements, involving the areas of agriculture procurement, new energy vehicles (NEVs), renewable energy storage, and more, have been signed between Anhui and the UK enterprises, with the amount of cooperation totaling $1.25 billion.

Wang Qingxian, the governor of Anhui province, speaks at the promotional event on Oct 16 in London. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Wang Qingxian, the governor of Anhui province, made opening remarks in which he outlined the investment environment and development priorities of the province, and the long-term business connection it has with the United Kingdom.

Wang said Anhui enjoys a superior geographical location because – alongside the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang and the city of Shanghai – it belongs to the Yangtze River Delta region, where the Yangtze drains into the East China Sea, which is one of the nation's largest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas.

The Yangtze River Delta region's GDP reached 29 trillion yuan ($3.97 trillion), or about 25 percent of the national total, in 2022, and Anhui has achieved the highest year-on-year nominal GDP growth rate within the region, according to data released in February by the bureau of statistics of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Shanghai.

Wang also highlighted the fact that Anhui is a prominent hub for science and technology innovation, and he singled out the efforts it has made in developing the NEVs industry cluster, saying the province now leads the way in NEV manufacturing, with China's BYD and NIO and Germany's Volkswagen each having set up production facilities in Anhui.

Wang said: "850,000 NEVs will be rolled out in Anhui this year, which make up 10 percent of China's total."

He also pointed out that the province has been active in improving Sino-British economic cooperation.

"Total Anhui imports and exports to the UK amounted to $17.7 billion in 2022, up 2.1 times compared to 2021," he said. "And there are now more than 100 British enterprises based in Anhui, including Unilever."

Unilever launched a production base in the province in 2002, which has grown to be its largest such facility in the world.

And the company is planning to increase its investment in the Anhui site, to further raise its production capacity, as Reginaldo Ecclissato, Unilever's chief business operations and supply chain officer put it when he shared Unilever's history in Anhui at the event.

Yang Xiaoguang, charge d'affaires to the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom, speaks at the promotional event on Oct 16 in London. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Yang Xiaoguang, charge d'affaires to the China's embassy in the UK, expressed hope that UK businesses will seize opportunities offered by Anhui, and emphasized that the sustainability of China's economy remains strong.

"The World Investment Report 2023 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development found that China saw a 5 percent increase in foreign direct investment last year, a record figure achieved during the worldwide economic turbulence," Yang said. "In the first half of 2023, the World Bank also raised its forecast on China's economic growth … China will continue to facilitate high-quality development.

"Despite the fact that disputes exist between China and the UK over a series of issues, the common interests that we share far outweigh the conflicts. Working jointly to achieve a win-win situation is the only way forward."

Sherard Cowper-Coles, chairman of the China-Britain Business Council, speaks at the promotional event on Oct 16 in London. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Sherard Cowper-Coles, chairman of the China-Britain Business Council, echoed Yang's comments, and said the council, which has promoted trade between the UK and China since 1954, will be "absolutely committed" to further enhancing the Sino-British trading relationship.

"We will continue to do so, and we are proud to do so," he said.

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