Looking for a break in China

E-commerce Minister, Douglas Alexander, today called on the UK IT industry to take advantage of new business opportunities with China following the country’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.

In a speech at the China Britain Business Council, Douglas Alexander said that China and the UK should work towards establishing compatible technology standards that will promote an open and competitive market.

This would allow China access to a wider range of markets with technological companies in the Western world, as well as offering a new market to UK business.

China already has the world’s largest number of mobile phone users and it is estimated that by 2005 they will have 290 million users and 220 million Internet users. In the UK approximately half of adults (23 million) have access to the Internet with £1.2bn spent on-line.

‘The Internet is the fastest growing market place in the world economy,’ said Mr Alexander. ‘It has been predicted that by 2003 the value of e-commerce is likely to exceed £800 billion.’

Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt and Mr Wu Jichuan, China’s Minister for Information Industries, signed a Memorandum of Understanding last month agreeing to develop closer thinking on e-commerce and ICT policy and a greater two way flow of investment. It is hoped a closer dialogue on policy and technology issues will lead to greater market and investment opportunity.

There is already a considerable amount of UK business activity in China including Vodafone, Motorola UK, and Marconi. Vodafone has a minority stake in China Mobile, China’s largest wireless carrier.

Motorola has also recently signed a contract with China Mobile to expand its GPRS network. Motorola UK specifically has been involved with the development of base station and mobile handset manufacture. In the UK, there are already over 120 Chinese companies, six of which are listed on the Stock Exchange.