China's procurement delegation arrived in London on Friday for their final leg of the four-nation Europe tour, sealing deals amounting to some $2 billion in Britain to show the country's commitment to the world economy despite threats of gloomy recession.
The event-packed visit in Britain has seen Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming having a working lunch with British Secretary for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, before both attending the signing ceremony of 11 contracts and agreement between the two countries.
The agreements covered wide ranging areas including textile material, metal services, airplane and automobile parts, eco-town building and motion pictures, with Hainan Airlines Co Ltd striking the largest deal totaling $1.2 billion with Rolls- Royce Plc under which the latter is to provide 20 engines for the Airbus 330 of the Hong Kong fleet, as well as service support for 15 years.
"This (the signing of contractual agreements) is just a beginning of our trade ties this year. Another group of Chinese businesses will come to Britain in a week's time to explore trade and investment opportunities," said Minister Chen, who led a 150- strong delegation composed of government officials, businesses and enterprises for a trip of commitment to Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Britain.
The four-nation trip 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 $60 billion by 2010.
Delivering a key-note speech at a symposium later organized by the China-Britain Business Council and China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Machinery & Electronic Products, Chen told an audience of over 600 business people from both China and Britain that at a globalized society, no country could stand alone without engaging with one another.
In the current financial crisis, seclusion and trade protectionism leads nowhere. An open market and collaboration is the only way out, warned the Chinese minister.
He pointed new opportunities in China-Britain ties, citing bio- industry, information technology, low carbon economy, new materials, medical and health as areas which promise great potentials for bilateral cooperation.
Impressed with China's procurement visit being organized in a relatively "short notice" with over 600 businesses been drawn to the symposium titled "UK & China: Partners in Business," Mandelson said the target to boost bilateral trade to $60 billion by 2010 is "ambitious and doable."
It's an indication of the political will, business enthusiasm and managerial efforts on the part of China, he noted.
The business secretary made it clear that Britain has expertise in low carbon, advanced engineering, bio-technology, new energy and space industry, which could provide for China in addition to knowledge and innovation.
"Our economic ambitions are bound together," Mandelson added.
The 2-billion-deal in Britain is part of the 15 billion worth of procurement arrangement China made with the four European countries. It is deemed as a move to show China's commitment to stave off protectionism as the world economy is plunged into deeper recession as well as presenting China as a responsible and accountable nation as promised during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's recent trip to Europe.
"The trip of commitment demonstrates China's determination to open its market and oppose trade protectionism. The procurement will help countries tide over the current difficulty and push world economy onto the road of recovery," said the Chinese minister.
Relations with the EU is the most important one amongst China's foreign trade and economic ties, which has witnessed the largest investment volume as well as technology output to China. Therefore, EU has been China's long-term, strategic partner.
The procurement trip in Europe is only a beginning on the Chinese part. Chen noted that a group of Chinese investors will be visiting Europe in a week's time to further explore investment opportunities.
Meanwhile, a British business delegation led by Mandelson are scheduled to visit China at the end of April.
Dubbing the China visit a "trip to deliver," the British Business Secretary wished it will also demonstrate Britain's business confidence by working together with China, a major engine in the global economy.