Brexit: implications for EU-China relations

The extent of current UK relations with China means that Brexit will notably reduce the scale and diversity of overall EU–China economic and commercial interactions. But the impact will vary across different areas. In policy terms, liberal voices on economic policy towards China will be somewhat weaker among the post-Brexit EU27.

The impact on post-Brexit EU27 trade with China will be felt both in the volume of trade and its composition. Following Brexit the EU will no longer be China’s largest trading partner. There will be some relative shift in Chinese investment in Europe away from the UK, though over time the impact of Europe-wide policy approaches to Chinese investment will have more impact than Brexit per se. EU–China educational exchanges will be weakened after Brexit, but inbound Chinese tourism will be less affected by Brexit. By 2025, the EU will have compensated for Brexit’s impact in some areas, but much depends on the EU’s own trajectory over the next decade. For Beijing, the EU–China relationship will take priority over UK–China ties. Within the EU, China’s relative focus on Germany will be even more significant.

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