BEMA Initiative

Last summer, a new vision for the British Chamber of Commerce in China was created. This would see more collaboration between the British business organisations, with the views, concerns and issues of all members in China represented to the UK government and wider stakeholders. 


Over the last 12 months, the Chamber has made huge strides in delivering on that vision, as it has led the Business Environment and Market Access (BEMA) initiative. This process officially began in November 2017 by all the major British business organisations in China with surveys, roundtables and interviews being carried out across a number of sectors in order to understand the major issues for UK business. Recommendations to address such issues have been advised to the government in order to support the success of UK firms conducting business within China. 

Such on-going work could not be more timely, with an official trade review between the Department of International Trade (DIT) and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (MOFCOM) being announced during the Prime Minister’s visit, and increasing dialogue around the collaboration along the Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, according to the Office of National Statistics, exports of goods and services from the UK to China increased by 32.2% in 2017 showing the importance of the bilateral relationship for the UK. With the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union in April 2019, and then being able to begin official trade negotiations with third country markets (depending on whether we stay in a customs union), the importance for all the British business organisations in China pulling together to ensure that every business, whether large or small has its voice heard is paramount.

This paper gives an overview of the first year of the BEMA initiative, showing the results of the survey, along with the key points from our completed sector reports. The survey results show that UK businesses are more optimistic, on average, than our European counterparts; that most businesses operating in China do not believe that Brexit will impact their China revenue; and that 71% will be increasing investment in China over the next 12 months. However, the survey and roundtables also showed us that China remains a challenging market, with protection of intellectual property, compliance and business ethics concerns and restrictions or difficulties in obtaining licences ranked as the three most important issues for the survey respondents.

Our in-depth papers have allowed us to be a key conduit with the UK government, with the first four sector reports resulting in meetings with the DIT sector teams in Beijing, with the findings feeding into sector strategies and a number of issues and items now getting onto the agenda for the upcoming Joint Economic Trade Committee (JETCO) in August. The British Chamber of Commerce in China along with the other business organisations continue to work to represent UK business in China. With a huge amount of effort, we are making significant progress and we look forward to your continued support over the year ahead.

From the Foreword by Nicholas Holt 

Read the whole paper: BEMA Overview 2018