British firms have much to offer and much to gain from China’s plan to modernize its manufacturing sector, according to a recent report released by the China-Britain Business Council.
The “Made in China 2025” plan is a highly ambitious initiative to comprehensively upgrade, consolidate and balance China’s manufacturing industry, and it offers plenty of opportunities for British firms, the report said.
“We see the next stage of China’s emergence as an economic superpower in its ambition to design and make products of the future required not only by Chinese consumers, but consumers around the world,” said Mark Wareing, director of Advanced Manufacturing and Transport with UK Trade and Investment China at the British embassy in China.
The State Council, China’s Cabinet, announced “Made in China 2025” in May 2015 as a national initiative to improve the manufacturing industry, initially up to 2025 and then to 2035 and 2049. The goal is to transform China into a leading manufacturing power, and 50 pilot projects were already launched across the country in 2015.
The plan focuses on 10 priority sectors, including advanced rail and equipment, aviation and aerospace equipment, agricultural machinery and technology, power equipment and technology and new generation information technology.
“Made in China 2025 is a truly exciting strategy and it is fantastic to see how closely the skills, experience and capability of the UK’s industrial base align with China’s ambitions,” said Wareing.
China is already Britain’s second-largest single export destination with exports of $27 billion, of which manufactured goods were worth $7.9 billion , demonstrating the importance of manufacturing to the UK economy, Wareing said.
The plan also prioritizes five nationwide initiatives with clear objectives to establish new innovation centers, research bases, implement smart manufacturing projects, green manufacturing projects and prioritize high-end equipment manufacturing. UK firms have much to offer in these areas due to their R&D and innovation credentials in industry and education, according to Stephen Phillips, chief executive of the CBBC. He said that opportunities will exist throughout China. In fact, most provinces and cities have published action plans for local implementation.
“While we see tremendous opportunity, we also recognize that there will be challenges such as IP protection, oversupply and over-investment, pace of change and favoring of indigenous innovation among others,” said Phillips. UK firms may also need to review their ability to react to the sheer pace of change in some industries to provide solutions to fast growing Chinese players, the report noted.