China is the great economic success story of the last 30 years. It is a huge market for UK businesses in everything from technology to luxury food products. We exported over £23 billion of goods and services to China in 2018.

Huge potential market

China is the largest country in the world by population, with over 100 cities of more than a million people. There is a fast-growing business and consumer market. Even with modest economic growth, China’s economy offers great opportunities.

Demand for quality

China’s increasing numbers of middle- and high-income consumers are focusing more on high-quality products. And as Chinese companies expand overseas, they need services and expertise to support them.

Better business environment

There are still challenges in China, but the business environment and market access for exporters has improved. China climbed the World Bank ease of doing business ranking by 32 places in 2018. It is now higher than some European countries.

World Bank Ease of Doing Business score 2019


out of 190 countries



Business language

Mandarin Chinese

you are likely to need a translator

GDP per capita


IMF, UK is $42,558

Economic growth


IMF, 2018

Time zone


Opportunities for exporters

A focus on importing to support the domestic market is bringing opportunities. Government policies and initiatives, including the Greater Bay Area and Belt and Road, and the growth in e-commerce are also opening markets. Trade links through Hong Kong remain strong and can be a good route for exporters.

Doing business in China

Understanding the market and business culture is crucial. Government control still affects many areas of the economy. Consider getting specialist help in areas like market research and legal advice.

Tax and customs

The UK and China have signed a double taxation agreement, meaning the same income is not taxed twice.

Standards and regulations

Not all Chinese standards are aligned with established international standards. It is important to check the laws, regulations, standards and certification requirements that apply to your business. Sectors like medical and food require registration (and possibly testing) and certification.

The Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for standards.

Protecting your business

You should consider specialist legal advice around data protection and other laws. The legal process can be expensive, so alternative dispute resolution is becoming more common.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) risks in China are genuine and should be considered as early as possible. However, China’s IP and legal systems have now developed to a level where risks can be managed in most cases.

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

The following links may also be useful:

UK-China Cooperation on Intellectual Property:

UK-China Intellectual Property Newsletter:

List of lawyers and translators in China:

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.