British PM keen to cultivate closer ties with trade mission

Updated: 2013-11-29 07:03

By Zhang Chunyan and Cecily Liu in London (China Daily)

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British PM keen to cultivate closer ties with trade mission

Participants chat at the European Showcase for Chinese Brands during the Autumn Fair in the British city of Birmingham in this 2012 photo. Provided to China Daily

The ambitions of British Prime Minister David Cameron for his trade mission to China early next month are evident in the size and political clout of the entourage that he will bring with him.

Analysts and business leaders say the trip reflects the government's desire to cultivate closer trade and business links with the world's second-biggest economy, and to capitalize on the thaw in Britain's relations with Beijing.

Nick Baird, CEO of the UK Trade and Investment, said, "I think the prime minister wants to recognize the strength of the China-UK relationship already, and encourage it to grow further, in both directions. I know he would want to promote further opportunities.

"He is bringing to China the biggest delegation that's ever left the UK, including big companies and small companies, and offering them in the Chinese domestic market," Baird added.

The large UK business delegation is looking to provide its technologies, expertise and services to China in a wide range of sectors including healthcare, energy efficiency and the creative industries, said Guy Dru Drury, chief representative in China of the Confederation of British Industry.

The confederation is the UK's premier business lobbying organization, providing a voice for employers nationally and overseas. It speaks for more than 240,000 companies.

"Building on the successful visit by the Chancellor George Osborne and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, to China in October, our large and diverse delegation will help to reinforce the fact that not only are UK companies eager to do more business in China but our doors are firmly open to Chinese investment into the UK," Drury said.

In recent years, the Chinese economy has made outstanding progress. As a result China-UK economic and commercial links are broadening and deepening. Chinese investments in Britain have set new records both in quantity and quality.

"The UK's trade and investment relationship with China is strong and growing at an unprecedented rate. This is excellent news for Britain and China and specifically for businesses from both countries," said Stephen Phillips, chief executive of China-Britain Business Council.

Phillips, who will also visit China in Cameron's delegation, noted, "The visit that follows so soon after the Third Plenum, is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the UK's commitment to further deepening and broadening our trade and investment links."

At CBBC, he said, "our members are confident that the prime minister will make the case both for British businesses doing more business in China, and for attracting more Chinese companies to invest in the UK as well as choose British companies as their partner around the world."

Paulo Barradas, executive director of Espirito Santo Investment Bank of Portugal, said Cameron's visit to China has created high expectations.

The delegation "will surely develop further Britain's relationship with China and pave the way for a long-term trade and investment partnership, including bilateral market opening," Barradas said.

Britain is China's second-largest trading partner among all EU members. China is Britain's third-largest trading partner after the EU and the United States.

Experts said that the areas the two countries are likely to cooperate in the future are numerous, particularly in financial services, energy and the creative industry.

The UK economy is built on free trade and a strong service sector, especially financial services. China, where the massive manufacturing sector is upgrading and outbound investment is speeding up, is a natural partner for Britain.

Wang Qing, a professor of marketing and innovation at Warwick Business School in the UK, said Chinese investors have already been heavily involved in the UK's energy sector and properties and it is only the beginning. Their appetite will only get bigger as the renminbi appreciates further and the asset price in the UK becomes more attractive.

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