China-Britain trade tops 2 billion pounds

LONDON, Aug. 20 - Trade figures released by UK Trade &Investment (UKTI) show that business between Britain and China is booming.

Between January and May this year, Britain exported more than 2 billion pounds (about 2.94 billion U.S. dollars) of goods and services to China, an increase of 44 percent on the same period in 2007, whereas Chinese imports for the same period to Britain grew 10 percent to 7.763 billion pounds.

The figures were announced on Wednesday as Digby Jones, minister for trade and investment, heads to China as it prepares to pass the Olympic baton to London to mark Britain's tenure as the next Olympic host.

British firms have been involved in preparations for the Beijing Olympics, from designing Beijing Airport's new terminal three, helping the design and construction of many Olympic landmarks, such as the Birds Nest stadium and the Olympic swimming pool, to supplying power and temperature controls as well as pumps for waste-water treatment plants to cope with the influx of visitors and athletes.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao agreed in January this year to set a trade target of 60 billion U.S. dollars between the two countries by 2010.

The increase in exports to China is mostly obvious in power generating machinery and components for road vehicles.

"As China opens its markets, fabulous opportunities will present themselves for UK companies. Exports have grown impressively in our services sector where we now export more than 1.5 billion pounds and where the balance of trade is two to one in our favor," said Jones.

To capitalize on this, UKTI, which is Britain's international business development organization, is holding a series of seminars in China for companies interested in buying power transmission equipment for vehicles later in the year.

The seminars will follow several key business events during the Games period, promoting British business capability and foreign investment, as well as partnership opportunities -- in general and around Olympic Games and global sporting events.

Digby Jones will also be leading a trade mission of Britain's creative industries businesses, one of the country's most successful sectors, to China.

"International sporting events offer huge opportunities for UK businesses. As all eyes turn to Beijing it is essential that British business is there to promote our expertise and capabilities on the international stage," said the minister.

According to him, over 11 percent of the total Chinese investment in Europe has come to London. He wishes to see more British firms trading in China.

"The trade figures show our relationship with China is going from strength to strength. The Olympics are an excellent opportunity to maintain the momentum of business relationships and ensure they continue to grow and prosper," Jones added.

China has been the fastest growing exports market for Britain since 2002 and the largest Asian export market for Britain since 2007. (1 U.S. dollar = 0.6803 pound)


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