UK looking to attract Asia Pacific investment with GREAT campaign

17 April 2018 4 min. read
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The GREAT campaign is an initiative run by Britain’s Department for International Trade which aims to boost foreign investment in the UK. As part of consultancy PwC’s continued partnership with GREAT, the firm helped organise a GREAT festival in Hong Kong, which took place in the last week of March. The festival hoped to promote UK businesses to Asia Pacific-based investors.

Amid an uncertain post-Brexit economic future, UK businesses are increasingly worried about a tailing-off of investment in the country. As negotiations grind ahead in Brussels, relations with the UK’s largest trading partner are predicted to be increasingly strained, and perhaps, punitive.

The UK government is, as such, anxious to drum up investment from new sources. To this end, it has recently made a concerted effort to court businesses in the Asia Pacific region. The region is a sensible wooing target: the private equity market of Asia Pacific region is booming – recently posting a deal value of $92 billion, with buyout-backed exits reaching $328 billion and buyouts recorded hitting $257 billion.

GREAT is a campaign run by the UK’s Department for International Trade which helps overseas companies invest and grow in the UK. The campaign’s investment services team works to build connections with foreign investors by sharing insights into specific markets, advising on recruitment, and assisting with visa applications, among other services. The initiative also hosts a number of international events, which attempt to promote the UK’s attractiveness as a potential investment destination. The most recent ‘GREAT Festival of Innovation’ took place in Hong Kong on March 21-24.

Welcome to a land alive with opportunity

The festival showcased leading British talent, tech, and innovation in order to inspire partnerships and investment from key Asia Pacific-based players. A number of high-profile British businesses and educational institutions also partnered with the event. At the head of the group, principal partner HSBC was joined by The Asia Society, The Berkeley Group, Bloomberg Media, British Airways, BBC Worldwide, BT, De Monfort University, Jardines, and professional services firm PwC.  

A PwC statement said that the firm views such events as important to the future of the global economy. “Sharing innovations that will drive the future of free trade and build lifelong partnerships” and discovering the world of innovation in one place can “create future partnerships and drive prosperity for all.”

Asian Pacific opportunity

A recent report from PwC revealed that more than half (54%) of CEOs in Asia Pacific are planning new strategic alliances or joint ventures to drive growth and profitability this year. PwC’s annual CEO Survey also reported that a further 42% are seeking new mergers or acquisitions, presenting significant opportunities for UK businesses looking to grow through collaboration with Asia Pacific firms.

The Asia Pacific region also holds significant opportunities for British small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), with 33% of Asia Pacific CEOs responding that they are looking to work with entrepreneurs and startups in the next 12 months. UK startups would obviously love to attract some of that capital.  Asia Pacific CEOs are also more optimistic about their prospects for growth than their peers: 44% responded that they ‘very confident’ about their firms’ growth prospects over the coming year, compared to 34% in the UK and 42% globally.

“Appetite for new business ventures is growing, while the Brexit vote has amplified the need for UK firms to explore markets outside the EU,” commented Kevin Burrowes, Head of Clients and Markets at PwC UK. “Economic growth in Asia is also expected to outpace the UK in both the short and long term, meaning Asia’s appeal is set to stand the test of time.”

Raymund Chao, Chairman for Asia Pacific and Greater China at PwC, added; “PwC is proud to play an instrumental role in this exciting series of events that will enable the sharing of innovation across industry, society and the community. As one of the key strategic partners, we are committed to supporting the UK as a premier destination for global trade, education and travel, and as an international financial centre.”