The Role of Chinese Natural Resources in UK Construction

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China's Role Within UK Construction - Maguire Brothers

An economic behemoth with relentless growth, China is a giant on the world stage, with an influence lesser only than that of the United States.

Despite relations with the West fluctuating between a state of tension and co-operation, the looming threats by Beijing to ‘re-take‘ Taiwan, the much-scrutinised 2019-2020 democracy protests in Hong Kong and, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic, ensure our fascinating yet complex relations with China remain under a continuous state of scrutiny.

With heightened global tensions, and directly as a result of the Russo-Ukraine war, consumers and businesses alike are exploring potentially fraught relationships with countries which we rely so deeply on. The construction industry is as reliant as any, with China firmly leading the way in construction exports.

Owing to its sheer vastness and biodiversity, China has an enviable supply of natural resources which have accelerated its economic success, with said resources proving to be so vital to global construction and infrastructure. From aluminium and copper to timber and granite, China exports a quite staggering array of natural materials, which, unsurprisingly, ensure China is (by quite some margin) the UK’s largest trading partner for the importation of construction goods.

Many construction materials which the UK previously proudly produced (and exported) in droves, such as steel, are being produced in China. Stark figures further emphasise the continuous shift to sourcing from the Far East: In 2019, 996 Million tonnes of Steel were produced by China, with the UK hobbling behind with just 7. Indeed, Government support and incentives are in place to ensure the UK does not further lag behind. Countless other examples exist – China is by far the largest exporter of aluminium and lead, to name but two.

While quality has (and in some cases remains) a concern, strict adherence by importers to British Standards does help to mitigate lingering fears. A recent article we published on the difference between cheap and expensive roof slates further illustrates that there is a gulf in quality for certain materials (whether perceived or not) and therefore creates a reputation which China may struggle to shed, with the tag ‘made in China‘ often derided.

With the global surge towards renewables and sustainability, China will certainty be at the forefront of green industries. Despite being one of the world’s greatest polluters, China is a world-leader in the production and use of Solar PV, as well as being by far the largest exporter of Lithium-Ion batteries, which we hope we will ultimately see powering global construction supply chains and fleets.

So, regardless of the political undertones of the day, it is seemingly inevitable that China is, and will remain, an indispensable partner for the UK and the world – and certainly for the construction industry.

This article, as with all other articles we produce, is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute formal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For bespoke, unbiased advice relating to your commercial roofing project please contact us and we would be pleased to assist.

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