UK-China civil nuclear partnership progresses

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and China’s Vice Premier Ma Kai have agreed to enhance the UK-China civil nuclear partnership, at the 7th UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue in Beijing, the government announced on Monday.

The agreement is said to represent a significant milestone in the burgeoning civil nuclear industry partnership between the UK and China, potentially worth tens of billions of pounds.

Osborne has also declared a new government guarantee of up to USD2bn for Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, which is expected to pave the way for Chinese investment in UK nuclear power and help to secure the UK’s future power supply.

Deeper nuclear sector collaboration between the UK and China is anticipated to help UK companies access China’s rapidly growing nuclear market, with further ties being established between the UK’s Northern Powerhouse and China. The two countries will work together to co-fund a GBP50m cutting-edge nuclear research centre, which will be headquartered in the UK.

In addition, a regional collaboration agreement has been reached between Cumbria and Sichuan Province. Under the agreement, commercial ties between the province and the North West’s world-leading expertise in nuclear decommissioning and waste management will be strengthened.

On conclusion of the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD), the two countries have agreed to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and take appropriate policy measures in line with the economic and financial situation at home and abroad, as well as promote strong, balanced and sustainable growth of both countries.

Trade and investment agreements include the facilitation of further bilateral investment and optimisation of the investment environment. The UK and China also plan to strengthen discussion around the phase IV fuel efficiency regulation for cars, which take into account regulatory burdens on small volume automotive manufacturers. Also, China Development Bank and UKTI will build and oversee an investment/financing cooperation platform that will include both UK and Chinese Financial serving both UK and Chinese investors in the areas of infrastructure and energy.

In addition, The Eden Project is to build its first development outside the UK, in Qingdao, valued at GBP6m over 3 years, while Supergroup will formally launch its new partnership in China with Trendy International, which will involve a massive roll-out across China.

London is also being established as a major global centre for RMB business, with China and the UK agreeing to extend and expand the RMB/Sterling swap line, as well as entering into an agreement to carry out a feasibility study on a stock connect between London and Shanghai stock markets. It was also announced that the PBOC will issue a RMB denominated central bank note in London in the near future, the first outside of China; a Representative Office in the UK for China Development Bank is to open as soon as possible; both countries support China Foreign Exchange Trading System’s plans to establish a presence in London; and China’s commitment to ease the quota restrictions on
non-sovereign investment by qualified institutional investors was welcomed by the UK.

The Chancellor commented: “Our message to our Chinese counterparts is clear; I want the UK to be China’s best partner in the West. I want us to enjoy a golden decade where we help each other to grow, to create jobs and raise living standards.

“For the UK this means developing stronger links with dynamic economies such as China’s. And being able to take advantage of the opportunities that a growing, reforming, rebalancing Chinese economy offers.”