International Trade Secretary appoints new ‘HM Trade Commissioner’ for China


Dr Liam Fox announces Richard Burn as the new HM Trade Commissioner for China during a trade visit to the country.

Picture of Richard Burn

  • Richard Burn named as HM Trade Commissioner for China
  • Dr Fox leads delegation of more than 50 British businesses
  • Prime Minister announces £9 billion of new trade

Richard Burn is the first of 9 HMTCs to represent and promote the UK in important markets across the world.

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

Trade between the 2 countries 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, Dr 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:

DIT was established to deliver a new approach to trade and investment promotion and this requires a new, senior, commercial team to lead our trade work overseas.

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.

DIT Permanent Secretary, Antonia Romeo, said:

I’m delighted to welcome Richard to this important new role in DIT, and look forward to working with him to maximise British trade with the Chinese market.

Establishing a network of HMTCs across the world is an important step in building the capability of the Department. HMTCs will be experts in their regions, providing a clear vision and direction to the department’s global operations.

HM Trade Commissioner for China, Richard Burn, said:

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.

Since the start of the visit on Wednesday, Dr Fox has witnessed the signing of a number of commercial deals and also addressed business leaders at a Digital China event promoting future collaboration opportunities between healthcare and big data providers.

Dr Fox also attended a Britain is GREAT reception, showcasing the UK’s creative, consumer, tourism and hospitality sectors.

The visit culminated in today’s China-UK Business Forum, bringing together hundreds of British and Chinese business leaders, including Ali Baba CEO Jack Ma.


About Richard Burn

Richard Burn is currently DIT Director General in China.

Richard has extensive business experience in China, including with Diageo, APCO and Batey-Burn, a market access and investment consultancy he co-founded and ran from 1989 to 1999. Richard has worked closely with government in China and the UK, including as former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath’s Private Secretary.

About HMTCs

All of the new HMTCs will cooperate closely with HM Ambassadors and High Commissioners, the wider diplomatic network, and other HM Government colleagues based in countries in their region, in a joined-up and co-ordinated government effort overseas to promote UK trade and prosperity.

Two of the roles will also have Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Consul-General responsibilities in the cities where they are based.

In total, there will be 9 geographical areas that the HM Trade Commissioners will cover:

  • Africa
  • Asia-Pacific
  • China
  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia Network
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • North America
  • South Asia

Further HMTCs will be appointed shortly.


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