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UK named 'country of honor' at China International Industry Fair

By Angus McNeice in London | | Updated: 2017-11-07 00:29

British companies from the advanced engineering and automotive industries will hunt for commercial opportunities alongside Chinese partners at a major trade fair in Shanghai this week.

Rona Fairhead, the United Kingdom's minister for trade and export promotion, and Jake Berry, the minister for the Northern Powerhouse, will lead a 100-strong business delegation to the China International Industry Fair, which runs from Tuesday to Saturday.

The UK has been named "country of honor" and official partner at the fair, which will host 2,500 companies from 28 countries and regions. The fair is a flagship event for advanced manufacturing in China, covering new energy vehicles, big data, robotics, aerospace, and clean energy among other technologies.

The UK pavilion at the fair will include carmakers Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce, and McLaren. In July, Jaguar Land Rover opened its first engine plant outside the UK in Changshu, Jiangsu province, as part of the company's partnership with Chinese automaker Chery.

Companies and research centers involved in future technologies, including Shadow Robotics and the Graphene Institute, will also join the UK pavilion.

"The UK exports to China are growing strongly, but it’s clear that there is still vast untapped demand for British goods and services in the Chinese market," Fairhead said. "The opportunities for growth are there, and we will continue to use trade missions, not only to build the UK culture of exporting, but also to help businesses of all sizes forge ties and cultivate relationships with potential buyers and investors."

Fairhead will also visit Chongqing, where she will attend the China-UK graphene standards working group to promote the UK's role in graphene research and commercialization.

Graphene is a two-dimensional material that is 200 times stronger than steel. Several UK institutions run projects exploring the material’s possible commercial applications. China's interest in British research into graphene was highlighted by President Xi Jinping's visit to the National Graphene Institute in Manchester during his 2015 state visit to the UK.

Berry said several companies based in the North of England will attend the fair to demonstrate the "strengths and opportunities for investment in the region". The Northern Powerhouse is an industrial development strategy that was started by the previous Conservative government, aimed at boosting the economy and transport links in the North of England.

The UK government has indicated Chinese investment is central to its plans for the region. Last November, Chancellor Philip Hammond offered Chinese investors a portfolio of 13 projects in the north worth 5 billion pounds ($6.6 billion).


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