Richard Burn becomes UK’s Trade Commissioner to China

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Diageo’s former Asia Pacific corporate affairs chief Richard Burn has been named as the UK’s first Trade Commissioner for China.

Burn is the first of nine HMTCs appointed to represent and promote the UK in important markets across the world – the crucial appointment coming ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU.

A well known figure in the region, Burn was an advisor to former British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and founded the Public Affairs company Batey Burn Ltd. in China, which went on to become part of APCO Worldwide.

The announcement came during a UK trade visit to China led by British Prime Minister Theresa May in which she announced around £9 billion of new deals for British companies.

Trade between the UK and China is at record levels, worth over £59 billion annually, with British exports to China growing by more than 60% since 2010. The UK is already one of the largest European recipients of Chinese foreign direct investment.

Leading a delegation of more than 50 businesses to China, Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox announced the first HMTC to head the global operations of the Department for International Trade (DIT) in China.

Each of the HMTCs will lead on export promotion, inward and outward investment, and trade policy overseas on behalf of the UK government. Their work will include developing and delivering a regional trade plan setting out DIT’s priorities in important global markets.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said: “As an international economic department, we’ve moved quickly to appoint the first of these important roles. With his existing wealth of trade and investment experience, Richard will provide intelligence on the ground, deciding what tailored action is required in China, and playing a vital role in our future global trading relationships.”

Richard Burn added: “China presents unrivalled opportunities for British companies. My role as HM Trade Commissioner for China will be to build on the strong links already in place, as we intensify the ‘golden era’ of UK-China trade. My top priority will be to achieve better market access for sectors in which the UK excels.”