LONDON -- A visiting Chinese business delegation sealed deals amounting to $2 billion with British firms in London on Friday afternoon in a significant move to stave off protectionism in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Britain's Business Secretary Lord Mandelson (R) attends a China-Britain Business Council matching event with China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming in London February 27, 2009. [Xinhua]
The agreement between Hainan Airlines Co Ltd and Rolls-Royce Plc was the largest deal totaling $1.2 billion. Rolls-Royce is to provide 20 engines for the Airbus 330 of the Hong Kong fleet, in addition to a 15-year service support.
The 11 procurement deals and agreements covered areas ranging from textile, metal services, airplane and automobile parts, pharmaceutical, new materials, eco-town building, and motion picture production.
Chen Deming, China's commerce minister who led a 150-strong delegation of government officials and entrepreneurs, said at a China-UK business symposium on trade and economic cooperation that the trip is aimed at boosting bilateral business confidence amid the current economic downturn.
According the Chen, trade between China and Britain dropped 2.6 percent in January this year, a clear sign of the global economic recession. However, he believed that Chinese businesses would like to take advantage of the British strength in research and development, high technology, even retail and textile to find ways for collaboration.
China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming addresses a China-Britain Business Council matching event in London February 27, 2009. [Xinhua]
"This (the signing of contractual agreements) is just a beginning of our trade ties this year. A further group of Chinese businesses will come to Britain in a week's time to explore trade and investment opportunities," said the minister.
Chen's current trip to Britain serves as a follow-up to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's latest "trip of confidence," during which both China and Britain had agreed to push bilateral trade to US$60 billion by 2010.
At the moment, Britain tops the list of European Union countries in terms of investment volume in China. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised in early February to double the country's export to China in the next 18 months.
Britain is the last leg of the Chinese delegation's four-nation procurement tour in Europe after Germany, Switzerland and Spain.