Belt and Road – why the UK will gain

China’s ambitious infrastructure project could help cement London as the world’s top financial centre after Brexit

As one of the world’s biggest renminbi hubs outside of China, the UK stands to play a pivotal role in the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative.

Chinese investors, according to our conversations with clients, are not that concerned about Brexit and are eager to reinforce trade ties with the UK.

Since its launch in 2013, B&R has achieved steady progress and global influence, amassing project contracts worth USD926 billion in over 60 countries, with the UK serving as a key financial hub. Most banks in the West, including Standard Chartered, now use London as their renminbi centre.

Golden opportunity to strenghthen ties

B&R, which spans 65 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe, will boost the renminbi’s
internationalisation by encouraging its use in both trade and financial transactions.

The UK has already significantly contributed to China’s grand infrastructure project by becoming the first major European country to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which focuses on projects across the Asia-Pacific region, including B&R countries, unlocking opportunities for British companies.

In global money centre terms, London’s expertise and financial infrastructure is rivalled only by New York, and the UK’s share of the offshore renminbi market already outpaces the US’ by some margin – 14.6 per cent versus 4.6 per cent respectively, according to our index.

The UK government described B&R as ‘an opportunity to strengthen ties’ with China during a recent trip to the country. The appetite to trade more with the world’s second-largest economy could help cement London’s position as the world’s top financial centre after Brexit, bringing a boost to the UK.

Finance is the lifeblood to sustain B&R and effective risk management is vital to encourage investment. With its expertise and financial infrastructure, the UK is in a strong position to benefit hugely from B&R, especially as it seeks to increase trade ties with China post-Brexit.