John Edwards, UK Trade Commissioner to China
The outlook for UK-China trade relations will be explored by John Edwards, UK Trade Commissioner to China, during an exclusive, off-the-record briefing with Asia House Corporate Members on Wednesday 27 April.
Taking place shortly after the ‘Two Sessions’ – China’s key annual political meetings – and with the UK and Chinese governments planning to host the resumed Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) and Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD), Edwards’ briefing comes at an important time for the bilateral relationship. These dialogues have not convened since 2018 and 2019 respectively amid increasing tensions between the two sides, but the reinstating of the JETCO and EFD demonstrates the importance currently attributed by the UK to the trade relationship with China – the UK’s third-biggest bilateral trade partnership, which was valued at £94.5 billion in the four quarters to September 2021.
Edwards will update Corporate Members on plans and ambitions for these upcoming bilateral dialogues and consider the broader regional trade environment in Asia, including China’s desire to join the CPTPP – a major regional trade bloc to which the UK has recently advanced to the final stages of negotiations – and the implications of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Amid strained relations between China and many of the UK’s key international partners, Edwards will also consider how the UK and China can navigate growing global tensions to work together on key issues of mutual importance and facilitate deeper trade. Other topics that may arise in the discussion include the commercial opportunities associated with the Greater Bay Area initiative and the London-Shanghai Stock Connect, as well as trade and investment cooperation around sustainable technologies.
Edwards has 25 years of experience working for the UK government, with more than half of that time spent in China including as HM Consul General in Shanghai (2015-19) and Minister Counsellor at the British Embassy (2012-15). In his previous roles in China, Edwards has led teams across China dealing with science and innovation, energy, climate change and health policy. As Consul General in Shanghai he was responsible for the trade and investment relationship across East China. In his most recent role as Deputy Trade Commissioner he was responsible for the advanced manufacturing, tech, education, life sciences and healthcare sectors.
This briefing is being convened for Asia House Corporate Members. To register interest, please email Edward Danks, Programme Associate: firstname.lastname@example.org
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