BRITAIN and China should build a strong and transparent partnership, William Hague said yesterday as he opened a summit aimed at boosting trade between the two countries.
The meeting came as ministers seize the chance to tout for business and encourage investment as London welcomes the world for the Olympics.
The Foreign Secretary said: “As the relationship between our economies grows, Britain can be a springboard for China into European markets, and China’s appetite for British goods and services will only grow.”
China, the world’s second biggest economy and whose capital Beijing hosted the last Games in 2008, has rocketed from seventh to third in the league of nations launching inward investment projects in the UK over the past year.
Last year, trade between Britain and China was worth £44.6bn. It is due to rise to £63.7bn by 2015.
The latest figures for the North East show that exports from the region to China were worth £384m in the last 12-month period, up 8.5% on the previous year.
UKTI in the North East will be hoping to grow this figure further when it leads a market visit to China, visiting Shanghai and Shenyang, in December to coincide with the automotive industry trade fair Automechanika.
The Government hopes the Olympics will generate economic growth in double-dip recession Britain, and is taking the chance of world leaders descending on London to drum up business.
This week’s Global Investment Conference opened a series of summits to showcase the UK and attract business worth £1bn. Yesterday saw the first of two meetings dedicated to deals with individual countries.
The other summit will be held with business leaders from Brazil, which hosts the next summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Brazil and China are two of the four Bric countries – the others are Russia and India – emerging economies set to become huge markets for global trade. Mr Hague said: “We want companies from China and across the world to thrive in the UK market, and we want our companies to do the same in China.
“We must continue to build a strong and transparent partnership between our two countries.
“Our shared interests outweigh our differences and they are growing all the time.
“We have much to learn from each other and it is a relationship that is mutually beneficial.”
He added: “Commercial diplomacy – using our diplomatic influence to help boost growth and attract inward investment – is a key element for the UK’s economic recovery and future prosperity.”
Firms interested in finding out more about the UKTI visit to China from December 11 to 14 should contact the North East International Trade Hotline on 0845 050 5054 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.