China and Britain are well-equipped to concentrate trade and investment cooperation in four areas in a bid to forge comprehensive economic and trade ties, Bo Xilai, Minister of Commerce, said yesterday in a written interview.
Bo identified these four areas as trade in services, cooperation in high and new technologies, British investment in China's newly-developing regions and China's investment in Britain.
Bo, who is accompanying President Hu Jintao on a visit to Britain, said he believes Hu's trip will generate new impetus to bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Hu, who arrived in London yesterday for the first state visit to the UK by a Chinese leader since 1999, also will travel to Germany and Spain later this week.
Economic issues are likely to be a major aspect of this trip.
The room for increased trade in services is obvious for China and Britain, said Bo. Britain is the world's second largest trading country in services, while China's service market is predicted to see fast growth in the near future.
Many service industries in Britain, including finance, distribution, design, consultancy, law and accountancy are well-positioned to tap into China's markets, Bo added.
In the field of high technology development, he said the two sides should be more open about cooperation. Biotechnology, information, energy and new materials are areas of interest identified by him.
"I believe British investors will be interested in the news that China is drafting a series of policies to encourage foreign-backed R&D centers," Bo said.
And he recommended China's middle, west and northeast as good locations for British investment.
They will find many new opportunities in these areas, which are less developed but have good infrastructure and education, he said.
"We also noted that China's outbound investment to Britain has quickly picked up in recent years and we will give more support to this trend," he said.
The British government is keen to attract Chinese investment, which currently is small, but is believed to have big growth potential.
Trade and economic cooperation between China and Britain has experienced rapid development in recent years. In 2004, bilateral trade reached US$19.7 billion, an increase of 37 percent over the previous year.
The figure in the first half of this year grew by 30 percent over the same period last year.
Britain is China's third largest trading partner and No 1 investing country in the EU. By the end of June, Britain's direct investment in China had exceeded US$12.7 billion.
British companies, led by Rolls-Royce Plc, BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Group and Tesco Plc, have pledged investment worth US$10.4 billion in China.
"But trade and economic cooperation between China and Britain still has much room for improvement and the two sides are a good match," he said.
China has had sound economic development and has a huge and attractive market. Its manufacturing sector is strengthening its power in electronics, telecoms and textiles. Britain is a big economic power with a strong capacity in services and technology development.
Since the EU and China first established relations in 1975, bilateral trade had risen 74-fold.
In a recent joint economic meeting between China and the EU, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, plans to bring out a communiqué on Europe's trade and investment relationship with China early next year.
The commission and China will look at ways in which a new framework agreement between them can better reflect economic and strategic changes in Europe's relationship with China over the last two decades.
(China Daily November 9, 2005)