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Cameron to promote trade

Updated: 2013-12-04 07:56
By Fraser Cameron ( China Daily)

During his ongoing visit to China, British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to attract Chinese investors to his country. Accompanied by a large group of ministers and businesspeople, he met with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. Cameron has made no secret that the priority of British foreign policy is to boost the country's exports and inward investment.

Speaking before his visit to China, Cameron had said that he wanted "to forge a new relationship with China that would benefit both our countries and bring real rewards for our peoples".

But the Conservative leader has had to wait some time to make this trip because the Chinese leadership was displeased with him for meeting the Dalai Lama in 2012. The British prime minister has now said that he has "no plans to meet the Dalai Lama in the foreseeable future". This statement led to some critics, including the Conservative chair of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, alleging that Cameron was neglecting human rights in his pursuit of trade deals.

Cameron to promote trade

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit the National Museum of China, Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 2, 2013. [Xinhua/Liu Jiansheng]

Cameron's visit to China follows those by British Finance Minister George Osborne and the flamboyant Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who recently visited Beijing and Hong Kong to drum up investment and try and sell London as the top financial center to facilitate the internationalization of the renminbi.

Osborne's main Chinese interlocutor was Vice-Premier Ma Kai who co-chaired the 5th United Kingdom-China Economic and Financial Dialogue in November. During that visit, the two sides signed a Civil Nuclear Memorandum of Understanding to support closer collaboration between British and Chinese nuclear companies through investment, use of technology and sharing of expertise.

Investments from Chinese mainland in the UK have been increasing rapidly and the UK is now the most popular destination for Chinese mainland's foreign direct investment after Hong Kong, the United States and Kazakhstan. The overall stock of Chinese investments in the UK is about $9 billion while the UK has roughly double that amount of investments in China.

Trade is also on the increase. British exports to China totalled 10.5 billion pounds in 2012, a 13 percent increase from the previous year. This year, there has already been a 20 percent increase in British exports to China. Plus, British services exports to China totalled a further 3.1 billion pounds in 2012.

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