Research project finds Chinese businesses are more active than UK companies in both export and import markets

Posted 13 June 2018 | 0 Comments

A research project by the University of Chester and the West Cheshire & North Wales (WCNW) Chamber of Commerce has found that Chinese businesses are more likely to have overseas customers and suppliers than their British counterparts.

The project, “Internationalisation, sustainability and key challenges facing SMEs”, was commissioned by the WCNW Chamber of Commerce and conducted by Business Research Institute at the University of Chester.  It looked at a comparative study between business in the UK and China; large companies and SMEs, as well as comparison between Chamber member and non-members in the areas of internationalisations; sustainability development and perceived key challenges facing businesses.  A total of 1,010 respondents, including 450 UK business and 560 Chinese businesses participated in the year-long study.

By comparing the UK and Chinese samples, the study results suggest that the internationalisation level of Chinese respondents is higher than UK respondents in all aspects. A total of 58% of Chinese businesses, in comparison with only 31.3% of UK businesses indicated that they had overseas customers.  Likewise, over 76.3% of Chinese businesses and only 21.1% of UK businesses have employees directly involved in international business.

Dr Wing Lam, Project Leader of the study, said: “As China is the world’s largest exporter, it is not surprising that Chinese businesses scored higher in export indicators.  Interestingly, the result of our study found that Chinese businesses are also more active in importing.”

The study result shows that a total of 45.8% of Chinese businesses, in comparison to only 18.5% of UK businesses, had overseas suppliers. In addition, a total of 26.9% of Chinese businesses, in comparison with only 4.8% of UK businesses had set up an overseas purchasing office.

The results of the study are significant as it suggests that China is not only an active exporter, it is also an active importer. Professor Phil Harris, an expert in Chinese business and Executive Director of Business Research Institute at the University of Chester, said: “With China’s population and steadily increasing purchasing power in the last four decades, it is undoubtedly one of the biggest potential markets for high quality, high value UK products/service.  As such, the opportunity posited by the Chinese market is certainly worth further exploring.”

Colin Brew, Chief Executive Officer at the WCNW Chamber of Commerce, said “The findings of this report highlight that there is still a lot of work to do in promoting the benefits of exporting to businesses in our region, something we are very passionate about at the Chamber. Firms need to be given the support and confidence to explore overseas markets with China being one of those.”