UK, China sign $2.23 billion deals
London, June 27, 2011
Britain and China unveiled a series of deals worth 1.4 billion pounds ($2.23 billion) during a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday, including a new agreement between energy group BG Group and Bank of China to help BG expand there.
"Our target is a hundred billion dollars of bilateral trade by 2015, something we discussed and agreed again this morning.
To achieve that both countries must continue to make the case for mutual commitment to market access," UK Prime Minister David Cameron said.
"I'm delighted that today's summit has seen new deals signed worth another 1.4 billion pounds. This includes BG's memorandum of understanding with the Bank of China."
Cameron was speaking at a news conference with Wen following a summit between the two leaders. Wen is in the middle of a European tour taking in Hungary, Britain and Germany.
As Greece teeters on the brink of default, Beijing is seeking to safeguard its vast holdings of euro-denominated assets and to preserve trade growth with the European Union, its largest trading partner.
"The breadth of deals agreed today shows that we can all gain from freer markets and that the EU and China should continue to open up to trade in both directions," Cameron said.
Wen told the BBC on Sunday China plans to stimulate domestic demand and reduce its foreign trade surplus to encourage balanced trade growth.
He repeated his assurance that China would remain a long-term investor in European sovereign debt, saying China would lend to those countries experiencing difficulty borrowing.
As part of the deals announced on Monday, gas company BG Group said it had signed a cooperation agreement with Bank of China that allowed for up to $1.5 billion of new funding options to support BG's growth plans.
The Chinese market for British poultry exports, potentially worth 10 million pounds a year, was also expected to be reopened in the wake of Wen's visit. China banned poultry products from Britain following an outbreak of bird flu at a farm in eastern England in 2007.
An expansion of trade in pork products was also expected, following agreements last November to export British breeding pigs and British pig meat to China.
Wen's visit is the latest of several recent high-level diplomatic exchanges between Britain and China, including a visit to China by Cameron last November.
Britain wants to double trade with China by 2015, in line with the British government's strategy of expanding business with fast-growing emerging markets to help offset subdued domestic demand at a time of sharp spending cuts.
Britain said ahead of Wen's visit it planned to raise human rights concerns with Chinese officials.
China has clamped down heavily on dissent this year, arresting scores of activists to smother scattered online calls for an Arab-style "Jasmine revolution", though it released prominent artist and activist Ai Weiwei last week and prominent dissident Hu Jia on Sunday.
Wen said on Monday China has had contacts with both sides in the Libyan conflict.
"We hope that the issue of Libya will be resolved through political, peaceful means to reduce the humanitarian harm -- in particular the harm of innocent civilians," he said. - Reuters