By Ben Simmons

The UK’s Recruitment and Employment Confederation took part in the recent round-table with Confederation of British Industry (CBI) China on the latest business trends in the Far East.

Discussions focused on growth opportunities for the recruitment sector in China and underlined the role that recruiters are already playing in helping global businesses bring in the skills they need to succeed in new markets.

“The EU is China’s single largest trading block and over half the UK's FTSE 100 companies are active in China,” said Guy Dru Drury, the CBI’s Chief Representative in China. “It can be hard to find out what is happening on the ground in terms of different industries which is why UK businesses can benefit from practical support. The CBI’s China office has been established for over five years now, our role is to provide specific services such as representation, networking and business intelligence."

Over 500 CBI members are now active in China, covering sectors such as outsourcing, professional services, consumer goods, logistics, ICT, manufacturing and finance. Specific organisations currently working closely with CBI China include Tesco, BT, RBS, KPMG, Ford, PWC, Deloitte, HSBC, Burberry, Bentley, Pinewood Studios, Premier League and Nottingham University.

The market update confirmed that there are rising costs associated with doing business in China — labour costs, capital costs, compliance and environmental costs. As a result the Government is looking at more favourable business tax, with one scheme currently being piloted in Shangai.

One practical challenge for UK businesses in China is the Bribery Act which applies to the way organisations operate overseas and can preclude basic corporate hospitality activities. This is putting UK firms at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to building relationships. Other challenges for UK businesses include market access and safeguarding intellectual property. The regulatory landscape in China can also be difficult to navigate, with legislation often very broadly drafted and open to local level interpretation.