British Chamber of Commerce in China’s managing director Steven Lynch, in conversation with Chamber International

7 May 2019


The last couple of years have been a particularly exciting time for British Chamber of Commerce in China (BCCC), with some momentous changes and something of a “fresh beginning” taking place.  As an important sign of this, on 1 April 2019 the four previously independent chambers – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and South West China – signed a historic memorandum of understanding to create a new “National Membership”, and a new National Board. 

So it’s with some anticipation that I meet with BCCC’s managing director, Steven Lynch (BCCC’s managing director - pictured right), to ask him for more information about these developments.

To begin with, I quiz him about BCCC’s much-anticipated Inaugural Position Paper, due to be launched in Beijing on 7 May, and then rolled out in the UK when he brings a high-level delegation here later that month, a tour which will include London and other major cities, and, we anticipate, a get-together with key staff at Chamber International. 

Lynch confesses that he is “excited” about the Position Paper; “In a sense it’s a culmination of the repositioning of the Chamber that we’ve worked towards for the last two years”, he says.  “Right now we’re presenting a preview of the paper to the Chinese and British government officials, and then it will be released officially”.

Though the Paper is still “under wraps”, is he free to share any snippets from it?  Clearly wishing he could say more, Lynch manages to hold himself back.  “We’ve aimed to keep the paper short, sharp and practical.  There is a strong focus on market access issues, with six clear recommendations, addressed to both China and the UK, which we then address sector by sector”.

The Paper will complement another important publication by BCCC – the Business Environment and Market Access Initiative (BEMA).  This report, issued in June last year and free to download, surveyed the executives of over one hundred British businesses in China, ranging from advanced manufacturing, through professional services, education, built services, retail, food and more, to discover their views on some crucial issues – how optimistic are they on doing business with China?  How much will Brexit affect their in-China business?  What are the biggest challenges they face?  The findings are encouraging, and well worth a read.  On poring through it last year, I for one was interested to read how optimistic UK firms in China are about their business prospects there, even though China’s economy has been slowing for a while.  In fact, 67% claim to be optimistic about the next two years’ business outlook, slightly higher than the 55% figure suggested by EU businesses in China in a the EUCC’s 2018 Business Confidence Survey.

Next we turn to the announcement about “National Membership” – what does it mean?  “Up till now, the four Chambers in China have had separate memberships and no overall governing board.  There was no single, unified, independent representation for British business in China – representation to either Chinese or UK authorities. But that has all changed now, membership of BCCC will give access to all the services and networks that were previously divided, and one national Board will coordinate and streamline those services.  It’s a real milestone, and will mean much greater value being delivered to our members”.

British Chamber of Commerce in China is truly unique in being a unified, independent voice for British business in the vital Chinese market, a market which is already of crucial importance to the UK and will be increasingly so in years to come.


Interviewed 25 April 2019, by Matthew Grandage, Chamber International’s China specialist


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