As part of Chinese Language Day, we are turning our focus on China. As the world’s most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion, it has the largest economy in the world, worth more than $24 trillion. These factors make it an undeniable force in international trade. In this blog we will look at what makes exporting to China so inviting, but also consider the challenges for new entrants.

UK exports to China

Jaguar Land Rover is the UK’s biggest exporter to China, but many other UK companies operate in this key market. China emerged as the biggest engine for growth for UK exports in 2020. It is actually one of the few major economies to have returned to growth in 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is therefore encouraging that British goods exports to China rose by 10.7% compared with the same period in 2019. Conversely, British goods exported to other major markets in 2020 fell sharply, with worldwide UK goods exports down a startling 25%.

Matthew Rous, chief executive of the China-Britain Business Council was very positive, stating that “It is great to see how well-placed British companies are to take advantage of China’s economic comeback, a testament to their hard work in attracting a solid Chinese customer base for their goods.” Mr Rous believes that “China is becoming an ever more important market for UK businesses and it is vital for British jobs that we continue to develop our economic ties with the world’s fastest-growing major economy.”

Benefits for UK businesses

  • China is the largest country in the world by population with over 160 cities of more than a million inhabitants
  • China is a fast growing consumer market with an increasing number of middle income consumers
  • China’s growth is ensured by Chinese monetary policy
  • China is forecast to become the world’s largest luxury goods market in the next five years*

Challenges when exporting to China

There are some unique challenges which include:

  • Large parts of the economy are still closed to full foreign participation
  • Strong competition from well-resourced and positioned state-owned enterprises
  • Difficulties in finding and retaining the right skills in the local workforce
  • Highly complex business culture
  • Considerable language barriers

Researching the Chinese market

Due not least to its colossal size, China is not a single market, rather it consists of numerous regional economies. It is thus important to fully comprehend the regional economic and cultural differences and appreciate how those nuances could impact on the success of your product. This will help you to create and develop the right strategy.

When it comes to a market as large and influential as China, you simply can’t do too much market research. Plan as much as possible before starting to sell your products and services in China, using both desk research and market visits. As it is such a complex market, it may be advisable to consider employing a specialist market research team.

Getting started in China – the first steps

You will need a long-term strategy to achieve success in China. There are numerous options for getting started in the Chinese market, but we would advise before you do anything, you consult local English-speaking lawyers. This will allow you to circumnavigate potential pitfalls and ensure your product – or service – is marketed in the most appropriate way.

Transcreation and localisation

Simply translating your website and product information isn’t likely to be sufficient. Your messaging will need to be carefully reviewed by transcreation specialists to ensure it is suitably adapted into the Chinese language, while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context. This messaging may then need further localisation work to tailor it so that it is effective across all seven regions.

Things to be mindful of

China Compulsory Certification (CCC)

The CCC mark is a compulsory quality and safety mark for many products imported, sold or used in the Chinese market. Goods imported into China without the CCC mark may be held by Chinese customs and subject to penalties. China’s National Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) lists on its website all the products that require a CCC mark.

Packaging requirements in China

Products sold in China must meet Chinese medical and safety regulations. It must not be poisonous or dangerous and must be easily degradable and recyclable. Wooden packaging must bear the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) logo.

Documentation requirements in China

Goods exported to China must fully comply with domestic legislation. The documentation required by Chinese customs will vary according to the specifics of the product. But expect to need certificates of quality, quantity or weight. These will be have to be issued by manufacturers or public assessors. Inspections upon arrival are required for certain products, which also need to be accompanied by formal certification recognised by the Chinese government. Any goods that don’t conform will be returned to the seller.

How Albion can help

At Albion Languages, we believe there is more to success in international markets than just translation. While accurate, informative translations underpin everything we do, our expert teams are also on hand to guide your business every step of the way. To help you overcome language barriers, and develop a thorough understanding of market nuances, needs, and culture. Our specialists work as an extension of your team to ensure your brand communication is successful overseas. We also help you navigate the challenges and teething problems that come with entering new markets. To find out more, please contact our experts.


* China Is Headed To Be The World’s Largest Luxury Market By 2025, But American Brands May Miss Out (