UK and China enter a new age of trade

13 February 2009

13 February 2009 | Paul Snell

In a surprising turn of events, Chinese buyers will source from UK suppliers as part of trade agreements signed by the two nations.

During his visit to Britain earlier this month, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao agreed a memorandum of understanding with Gordon Brown aimed at boosting trade.

Speaking at a joint news conference, Wen pledged to begin 'procurement missions' to the UK soon. Brown added that Chinese ministries would identify products and services that can be sourced from the UK, as part of the Chinese domestic fiscal stimulus plan. The UK government will then match these to British firms.

"By taking action now we believe we can expand trade between our two countries immediately and the benefit will flow to British workers in terms of jobs and British companies in terms of contracts," said Brown.

Chinese buyers are expected to target the aerospace, hi-tech manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and vehicle industries. Wen said Chinese firms had signed $15 billion (£10.1 billion) of contracts with European firms during his tour of the continent. The agreements are part of Brown's plan to double UK exports to China over 18 months, from £5 billion to £10 billion.

"Premier Wen and I agreed that the biggest danger the world faces is the retreat into protectionism which is the road to ruin," Brown said. "The best attack on protectionism is to demonstrate today the benefits of trade for jobs and for eventual prosperity and that is why we are ready today to break through old barriers in trade between our two countries."

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