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UK named 'country of honor' at trade fair

By Angus Mcneice in London | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2017-11-12 15:29

British companies from the advanced engineering and automotive industries have been hunting 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, have been leading a 100-strong business delegation to the China International Industry Fair, which began on Nov 7 and concludes on Nov 11.

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

The UK pavilion includes 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, have also joined the UK pavilion.

"The UK's 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 says. "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 was also due to visit Chongqing, to 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 says 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 transportation links in England's north.

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