Chinese seek UK environmental expertise

6th October 2016


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Adriaan Edward Bekker

The vote to leave the EU has focused environmental businesses on gaining work in China, the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) said.

Last month, the EIC hosted a delegation of representatives of the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences (CSES), a business and scientific environmental organisation with close ties to the government in Beijing. Around 30 of its business members were part of the visit.

The EIC and CSES signed a memorandum of understanding in 2013, which has resulted in exchanges between businesses and politicians and led to a number of British companies working in China. The country is mainly seeking help to deal with air, water and soil pollution, all of which China is suffering as a result of its heavy use of fossil fuels, according to Wang Zhihua, secretary general at the CSES.

He said China was keen to find companies with experience of looking at the combined impacts of these types of pollution, not just those from a single source. ‘The UK had an industrial revolution, the same as we have now, so we believe that the UK has the capability to solve complex problems,’ said Zhihua.

The vote to leave the EU has focused businesses’ minds on the possibilities of trade with China, EIC executive director Matthew Farrow said: ‘Brexit has concentrated minds, there’s a lot of talk from ministers about maximising opportunities outside Europe.’

Initially, the Chinese were worried about the UK’s willingness to do business, but have been reassured by politicians’ statements that the UK is open, he added.

Neil Parish MP, chair of the House of Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee, told a parliamentary reception held by the EIC that most of the UK’s environmental standards would be maintained or strengthened after it left the EU. However, some might be altered ‘in a more sensible direction’.

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