William Hague seeks 'strong and transparent partnership' with China


Britain and China should build a "strong and transparent partnership", William Hague said today as he opened a summit aimed at boosting trade between the two countries.

The meeting came as ministers seize the chance to tout for business and encourage investment as London welcomes the world for the Olympics.

The Foreign Secretary said: "As the relationship between our economies grows, Britain can be a springboard for China into European markets, and China's appetite for British goods and services will only grow."

China, the world's second biggest economy and whose capital Beijing hosted the last Games in 2008, has rocketed from seventh to third in the league of nations launching inward investment projects in the UK over the past year.

Last year, trade between Britain and China was worth £44.6 billion. It is due to rise to £63.7 billion by 2015.

The Government hopes the Games will generate economic growth in double-dip recession Britain, and is taking the chance of world leaders descending on London to drum up business.

Yesterday's Global Investment Conference opened a series of summits to showcase the UK and attract business worth £1 billion.

Today sees the first of two meetings dedicated to deals with individual countries. The other summit will be held with business leaders from Brazil, which hosts the next summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Brazil and China are two of the four "Bric" countries - the others are Russia and India - emerging economies set to become huge markets for global trade.

Mr Hague said: "We want companies from China and across the world to thrive in the UK market, and we want our companies to do the same in China.

"We must continue to build a strong and transparent partnership between our two countries.

"Our shared interests outweigh our differences and they are growing all the time.

"We have much to learn from each other and it is a relationship that is mutually beneficial."

He added: "Commercial diplomacy - using our diplomatic influence to help boost growth and attract inward investment - is a key element for the UK's economic recovery and future prosperity.

"It is at the heart of a huge amount of work occurring across the Foreign Office's worldwide network of missions.

"Engaging with the emerging economies is a vital part of this effort."

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "We are taking every opportunity to maximise the economic benefits of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012.

"Around four billion people will tune in to watch the opening ceremony this evening, and every day of the Olympics will be another incredible chance to show the world what Britain represents today, and what we have to offer.

"We will continue to do all we can to provide a welcome environment for Chinese business and investment, and to support emerging Chinese brands as they take their businesses to the global markets, including the UK."