July 22, 2024

Britain and China Set $2.2 Billion in Deals and a Goal of Doubling Trade by 2015

In announcing the deals, worth about $2.2 billion, the British prime minister, David Cameron, restated the goal of doubling trade between the countries to $100 billion by 2015. Mr. Wen said that he was “confident” of meeting that goal.

“The purpose of my visit is to promote communication, cooperation and development,” Mr. Wen said at a news conference in London. Mr. Cameron said China presented a “huge opportunity” for British companies.

Mr. Wen was more than half through a four-day European tour. He had already visited Hungary and was to travel to Germany late Monday.

After a meeting with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, over the weekend, Mr. Wen said that China had “total trust in Europe’s economic development” and would “consistently support Europe and the euro.”

In Britain, Mr. Cameron’s government is trying to strengthen trade relations with the faster-growing China. The goal is to increase exports and bolster British manufacturing to speed an economic recovery that recently has started to slow.

British exports to China have grown 20 percent since last November, when Mr. Cameron visited Beijing with a business delegation. China has become the third-largest source of British imports, after Germany and the United States, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Britain and China agreed Monday to increase infrastructure investments in both countries and grant British businesses better access to China’s civil engineering and research markets. A ban on British poultry exports to China, which was imposed as a result of avian flu cases in 2007, was lifted, and Britain is to sell more pigs and their meat to China.

Diageo, the British spirits company, said Monday that Chinese regulators had approved its acquisition of an additional 4 percent stake in the liquor maker Sichuan Chengdu Quanxing, giving Diageo control.

Other deals announced after the talks included an agreement between Weatherly International, a British mining company, and the East China Mineral Exploration and Development Bureau to cooperate on the development of a lead zinc mine in Namibia. The BG Group, the British natural gas company, also signed a deal with Bank of China to receive as much as $1.5 billion in financing.

During the news conference, Mr. Wen dodged questions about China’s human rights record. “On human rights, China and the U.K. should respect each other, respect the facts, treat each other as equals, engage in more cooperation than finger-pointing and resolve our differences through dialogue,” he said.

On the same issue, Mr. Cameron merely repeated a statement from his last visit to China, saying, “We do believe the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress to go in step together.”

Mr. Wen was to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in Berlin on Monday. China and Germany are expected to announce 30 cooperation and trade agreements on Tuesday, the German foreign ministry said.

As part of those talks, officials were to discuss a possible order for superjumbo jets that has caused controversy. China is pushing the European Union to abandon plans to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions of airlines, including foreign-owned ones, flying to and from the 27-country bloc. China warned this month that it could block its airlines from buying new planes built by Airbus, which is based in France, if Brussels proceeded with the plans.

The issue came to a head at the Paris Air Show last week, when Chinese officials sought to derail an order for 10 Airbus A380 superjumbo jets by Hong Kong Airlines, a domestic airline that operates between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Airbus had planned to announce the $3.8 billion contract, which had already been signed by the airline, at the show, but Beijing declined to give final approval, people with knowledge of the talks said.

Formal approval of the deal was expected to be granted eventually, said these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the situation was politically fragile. They said, however, that further Chinese orders of Airbus jets had been delayed, including a large one that Airbus had hoped to announce while Mr. Wen was in Germany. It was unclear whether that order would now be modified or postponed.

Nicola Clark contributed reporting from Paris.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/business/global/28iht-ukchina28.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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