By Jason Stockwood, CEO of Simply Business
George Osborne is right to defrost business relations with China. As the balance of global economic power moves East, it is imperative that the UK recognises the growing importance of China, both as an increasingly important export destination and as a source of inward investment.
More efficient visa processes and the presence of Chinese banks in the UK are important first steps towards ensuring that the UK can benefit from China’s unparalleled growth.
But this renewed focus on Beijing comes at a dangerous time for our relationship with Europe. As the UK’s favourite business insurance broker, we deal with small businesses every day — and we understand that Europe remains a key priority for these firms.
The coalition must change tack on the EU. The viability of many of our small businesses depends on our special relationship with Europe, and this must be strengthened, not abandoned. The growing influence of Eurosceptics is bad for British business, and the government should no longer entertain the voices that clamour for the UK to sever its ties with the Continent.
Instead, the coalition must work to foster relations not only with China but also with our European neighbours. Europe remains our primary trading partner, and SMEs, which form the backbone of the UK economy, rely on this partnership more than anyone. The coalition should continue its push for Chinese business, but it must do this in tandem with a renewed focus on Europe - for the sake of the small businesses that will drive our economic recovery.
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