News in brief: China, EU, CBI

News in brief
News in brief

UK-China trade deals stronger with the EU

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) president Paul Drechsler called for stronger economic ties between China and the UK at the CBI’s annual Chinese New Year Dinner. In addition, Drechsler claimed that the two countries’ relationship would be stronger if the UK remains in the EU.

Last year saw £40bn worth of deals during President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK, heralding a ‘golden era’ for UK-China relations.

Drechsler added: “During his state visit, the Chinese president expressed a hope that Britain could play a constructive role in deepening EU-China ties. And whilst a trade deal with China is still a way down the track, we surely have the best chance of getting a good deal with the backing of 500 million citizens, instead of 64 million.

“Of course – countries outside the EU can, and do, sign trade deals. Just as the UK would in the event of Brexit. But compared to what Europe can achieve, these deals aren’t up to scratch. The UK will be better able to stand toe-to-toe with China inside the EU than cutting its own deal outside of it.”

SMEs upbeat about exports despite recent stalling

Small and medium-sized manufacturers reported flat domestic new orders and a further small fall in export new orders in the three months to January, according to the Confederation of British Industry SME Trends Survey.

However, SMEs are more upbeat about performance over the next quarter, with both domestic and export orders expected to grow.

The survey of 426 firms shows that optimism regarding the business situation stabilised over the quarter and the volume of output rebounded with growth set to accelerate further in the quarter to April. Optimism regarding export prospects for the year ahead improved, but average export prices suffered their sharpest fall since October 2000.

CBI Economics Director Rain Newton-Smith said: “Global growth prospects remain under the spotlight and while selling prices have fallen, it remains to be seen whether the next three months can match the more positive outlook of smaller manufacturers.”