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Britain aiming to double exports to China: Brown

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Feb 2, 2009
Britain wants to double its exports to China within 18 months, taking advantage of Beijing's efforts to boost its own economy, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday.

Speaking after talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Brown said exports to China last year added up to nearly five billion pounds (5.5 billion euros, 7.0 billion dollars) and he wanted this figure to reach 10 billion pounds by 2010.

"We have agreed together today to push forward with urgent better trade relations and Britain's exports to China will go up with the ambition to double these in 18 months," Brown said at a press conference with Premier Wen Jiabao.

Brown said British companies could benefit from construction and infrastructure projects that China has announced as part of a fiscal stimulus package to fight the financial crisis.

"China has made a decision that it will expand its domestic demand as one way of restoring the health of the global economy," he said.

"That means that China will need more resources spent on infrastructure, healthcare and industrial development.

Brown added: "British firms have a great opportunity to get the benefit from contracts in all these areas."

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, the former European trade commissioner, will visit China in April to identify specific deals.

Wen said he had signed 15 billion yuan (1.7 billion euros, 2.2 billion dollars) worth of trade contracts during his five-nation European tour. He said he would send "procurement teams" to buy goods and services from Europe.

The premier added that if China could maintain its economic growth, "it will be the biggest contribution to the whole world in the face of the financial crisis."

At a business conference with Wen earlier, Brown said the economic relationship between Britain and China would be a vital way of weathering the current worldwide economic storm.

"The strength of the relationship between China and Britain will be a pivotal force in helping us through the downturn and a powerful driving force behind our future growth and prosperity," he said.

"We know from previous downturns that a retreat to narrow, short-term protectionist policies would only serve to deepen the global recession and we must not and will not allow that to happen again."

Wen was to return home later Monday at the end of a trip that has also taken him to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and to Germany, the EU headquarters in Brussels and Spain.

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China's Hu urges Obama to resist protectionism
Beijing (AFP) Jan 31, 2009
China's president urged better ties with the United States in his first phone conversation with President Barack Obama, and called for both sides to resist trade protectionism, Beijing said Saturday.

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