China, UK sign business deals

2010-11-08 13:00

Beijing - Chinese and British firms have signed a raft of deals worth millions of dollars, the British embassy said on Monday on the eve of a visit by Prime Minister David Cameron aimed at boosting business ties.

British Business Secretary Vince Cable on Monday opened three days of talks in the Chinese capital, the embassy said. Cameron is expected to arrive with a major delegation of top business leaders looking to seal lucrative agreements.

"China is a huge opportunity for UK businesses and I would urge more companies to follow in their footsteps," said Cable, who met Commerce Minister Chen Deming on Monday.

"China is our ninth largest export market, but it is the world's second-largest economy and the potential for expanding our partnership is huge."

Cameron has described his two-day trip to China ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Seoul as a "vitally important trade mission".

Since taking power in May, Cameron has vowed "closer engagement" with China, and put "banging the drum for trade" at the heart of his foreign policy amid deep spending cuts at home after the financial crisis.

The contracts announced on Monday are worth at least £12m, according to the embassy statement -- a possible prelude to what British companies hope will be a big pay-off later this week.

They include a £2m coal injection technology agreement between British firm Clyde Blowers and Yima Coal Industry Group as well as contracts worth £4m for architecture firm Benoy.

Trade between the two nations was worth $51.8bn last year, with Britain exporting $12.4bn worth of goods and services to the rapidly growing economic powerhouse.