British businessman Gerry Grimstone on China-UK economic ties

By Wang Zhiyong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 12, 2018
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British businessman Gerry Grimstone gave an interview at the Young Icebreaker annual gathering of young U.K.-China business leaders in London, sponsored by the 48 Group, on June 5. Grimstone is the chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen PLC and of Barclays PLC.

British businessman Gerry Grimstone
British businessman Gerry Grimstone

Grimstone started by saying that over the last 20 years China has started to play a much more active role in the world. He stated that the biggest achievement in bilateral relations between China and the U.K. of recent decades has been "understanding each other and getting to know each other well."

According to Grimstone, the fact that both countries have long histories enables them to "combine traditional ways of thinking" with modern and entrepreneurial approaches. "Countries become prosperous by doing business with each other and trading with each other and I hope that is always the position between China and the U.K.," he said.

In regards to how Britain can become more involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative, Grimstone said that his asset management company, Standard Life Aberdeen, is interested in investing in the BRI, as is the British government.

"When China builds infrastructure through these countries, it has a very deep impact on them. I think the main infrastructure itself may be financed by China, but the economic development that this infrastructure creates gives huge benefits to outside investors," he said, adding, "I sit on the advisory board that advises the British government on these matters, and they are very keen to do more."

Grimstone was also enthusiastic about Chinese opportunities for investment in the U.K. "Chinese investment is very welcome in Britain. I think we're one of the most welcoming countries in the West for China," he said. He underscored what he called a "level playing field" in Britain: "We don't choose between nationalities. All friends are our friends."

In addition, Grimstone spoke positively about the progress of China's state enterprises and market reform. He was in charge of state enterprise reform under Margaret Thatcher at the time of his first visit to China nearly 30 years ago to work on the reform of Chinese state enterprises.

"I think state enterprises in China have improved a lot, but there is still room for further development and I'm sure that will be a priority of the administration going forward," he said. In relation to market reform, he stated that the steady path that has been followed has facilitated step-by-step developments, and that "when you add all those steps together, it is a very great journey that China has done."

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