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Kenneth Clarke visits China

Cabinet Minister without Portfolio Kenneth Clarke is leading a trade delegation to China to promote the UK’s world-beating healthcare sector companies to the Chinese market.

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Kenneth Clarke made an opening speech at the dementia workshop on 13 January.
Kenneth Clarke made an opening speech at the dementia workshop on 13 January.

The delegation is the largest-ever British health and social care delegation to China: 50 individuals from 38 British companies, universities and training hospitals will be will be looking to forge new relationships and partnerships in order to take advantage of the vast expansion and modernisation of the Chinese healthcare system. The delegation will be introduced to potential buyers with the aim of building concrete business relationships, and will establish the necessary political links with Beijing and other parts of China to unlock trading and investment opportunities.

The Minister will lead the delegation to five Chinese cities and provinces over the course of the week-long visit: Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing, Zhejiang and finally Shanghai. Mr Clarke will meet the Chinese Health Minister in Beijing, Li Bin, and together they will open a joint conference on dementia, building on the relationship established by the Prime Minister in December.

Before leaving the UK, Mr Clarke said:

I am very happy to be leading another delegation of excellent British companies to China, which will build on the progress made by the Prime Minster when he visited in December. The British healthcare system is the best in the world, and there will be important export opportunities as China invests huge sums of money in its healthcare system over the years ahead.

Healthcare and life sciences are among the strongest sectors of the British economy and our standards are held in high regard overseas. As a country, we must play to our strengths if we are to continue to build a healthy, modern economy, and there can be no doubt that exports in this area will play an important part. From building a hospital to training the staff to building the IT and management systems, the UK has the expertise that China needs as it builds a healthcare system that is projected to be spending a trillion dollars every year by 2020.

The Chinese healthcare market has been identified as a “High Value Opportunity” by the government, and Mr Clarke has been leading the work to promote British interests there since March 2013. Over the course of the visit, he will witness several agreement signings at government to government and business to business level.

An agreement with the Chinese government will lead to exchange programmes for training, education and knowledge sharing and a facility for demonstrating UK technology and innovations to potential buyers from across China.

The objectives of the visit build on those of the Prime Minister’s visit in December. Mr Clarke’s seniority and the size of the delegation demonstrate the government’s commitment to a bilateral trade and investment partnership between the UK and China. The first meeting of a new China-UK Healthcare Working Group will help to position the UK as China’s premier partner in the healthcare sector.

In addition, the visit will further the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge, kicking off a new collaboration with China on tackling dementia.

Chinese health spending has soared from 1% of GDP in 2002 to 5.15% today, with scope for much more to be invested in coming years. Health spending in China is projected to reach a trillion dolars by 2020, and 95% population have some kind of health insurance.

The Minister’s visit is part of the work of Healthcare UK, the government agency responsible for promoting British healthcare abroad. Along with UK Trade & Investment, Healthcare UK has helped British companies win £ 306 million of healthcare contracts so far.

Published 13 January 2014