Monday, 7 February 2011

One to watch!

On Tuesday February 8th, at 9pm BBC 2 are putting on a programme investigating the spread of Chinese influence around the world. I shall definitely be watching it.

In parallel I'm reading controversial economist Dambisa Moyo's latest book, reviewed in the Evening Standard last week, entitled 'How the West was Lost; Fifty years of economic folly - and the stark choices ahead'.

She writes: "It's not just China's rising share of world GDP that underscores it mounting economic influence. So too do its notional stock of wealth (i.e. how much money the country has) and its population's per capita income (i.e. the average income per person), which have risen spectacularly thanks to the country's extraordinary growth rates - since 1989 China's growth rate has never dipped below 6 per cent, and sometimes has reached 10 per cent.

In just thirty years China has shifted some 300 million of its people from abject poverty and wretched indigence to economic standards that rival the West's - a feat unprecedented in the history of the world. In the past two decades China has been the world's fastest-growing economy, overtaking Germany (the world's third) in 1982, Japan (the world's second) in 1992, and by 2003 vying to match the USA, representing per cent of America's GDP.

Before the first decade of the new millennium is over, China is already first in mobile phones, cars and internet users, first in exports, second in electricity consumption and first in terms of reserves. In the first seven months of 2009, the UK bank Morgan Stanley reported that vehicles sold in China reached 12.3 million on an annualised basis, exceeding the United States for the first time ever. At the end of 2008, China recorded more dollar millionaires than the UK (364,000 versus 362,000, respectively."

Dambisa's verdict for the west is: "As the world flattens out it will always be inevitable that the West will lose on a relative basis, but it is not predetermined that it has to lose on an absolute basis." I'm reading on to find out more.

As we enter China's year of the rabbit, it's time to rethink the UK's trading strategy with China, and where UK agencies fit in. We're meeting tomorrow with UKTI officials to take the IPA's programme forward for its members.

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