Economic Powerhouses: Is China unbreakable?


In this edition of our Economic Powerhouse series we’re looking at how UK businesses can penetrate the unbelievable economic success story that is China.

It’s the world’s second largest economy, valued at £4.5 trillion. The annual growth rate is almost 10% and its e-commerce market value is predicted to be worth £150 billion by 2015. With such success, where is there room for UK business to tap into the increased spending power of the middle class Chinese?

World leader in low-cost mass-production

In 2010, China became the largest producer of vehicles in the world, manufacturing nearly twice the amount of Japan, its closest competitor. In certain sectors, such as steel, they produce roughly 400% more than Russia, the nearest competitor.

China’s best exports for high demand products:

  • Coal
  • Cotton
  • Tobacco
  • Beer
  • Computers
  • Electrical machinery
    (Value of exports $2.021 trillion in 2012 est.).

Key investment sectors

China’s current key sectors could still be seen as emergent, as they have only recently achieved world leader status for certain products. Growth within these fields is predicted to continue.

In July 2012, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, revealed plans to develop certain smaller, but rapidly growing, sectors:

  • New energy
  • Biology
  • Information technology

It is hoped that these sectors will generate 15% of the country’s GDP by 2020.

Major cities for UK business opportunities

China has a total of 90 cities with a population of over 1 billion, the majority of which boast a significant impact on the country’s economy.

  • Beijing and Shanghai
    China’s two most densely populated cities were recognised as the top areas for investment potential in 2012, with a combined trade value of around £740 billion.
  • Kunshan
    This city manufactures and supplies 40% of the world’s laptops.
  • Suzhou
    Global giants Nike and Samsung have recently set up shop there.

Get government funding to undertake research and meet potential customers

There is some great support available for UK exporters keen to do business with China, including research funding from UK Investment and Trade

Things to consider when communicating with potential customers in China:

  • Web users are 4x more likely to purchase from a website that communicates in their language
  • Customers who buy online will pay more for a product if they can buy it in their own language
  • Over 56% of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price

Expansion plans are often exciting but can also be daunting, especially as effective communication plays a major role in the success of market penetration. You may need to think about translating your website and print material, marketing materials and also technical and product-related content such as manuals.

If you have any questions about how to approach communication requirements for new markets or would like information on our Chinese translation services, please contact a member of our team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email

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