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Brown Hopes to Woo Business from China, India
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British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown will unveil a plan to woo investment from emerging markets such as China and India, while also promoting domestic business talent overseas, two newspapers said.

Brown, the man seen as most likely to succeed Tony Blair as the next prime minister, will announce the strategy as part of his tenth annual budget speech on Wednesday, The Times and The Financial Times reported.

Brown will also reveal that he has teamed up with about a dozen leading institutions in the City of London to develop a unique way to sustain the capital's competitiveness as a global financial hub, The Financial Times said.

Central to his bid to attract more foreign funds is a shake-up of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the agency responsible for marketing Britain abroad, The Times said, citing unnamed government sources.

Experts from the private sector are to be brought in to help with the "transformation" of the agency under new chief executive Andrew Cahn, a former industry director of British Airways, the newspaper reported.

At present, UKTI, which operates in 123 countries, has some 1,300 staff overseas, most of whom are either locally employed, from the Foreign Office or from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Under his plan, Brown will encourage the agency to become more commercial, replacing civil servants with private sector experts, according to The Times and The Financial Times.

He will ask Cahn to change the way Britain is marketed "particularly in high growth countries such as India and China," The Times said.

The agency will be urged to work with academics and business people in various countries to attract more research and development to Britain.

At the same time, Brown wants to promote innovative British firms overseas.

"UKTI needs to be proactive and ambitious and focus its efforts on marketing the UK where the opportunities are greatest," an anonymous government source told The Times.

"We have built the platform for the UK to become the best place in the world to do business but we must now take the steps to boost our competitiveness further and market ourselves more effectively," the source added.

As for London's financial attributes, The Financial Times reported that a group of institutions including the London Stock Exchange, Lloyd's insurance market and Euronext-LIFFE have signed up to a Brown initiative to "develop and support a co-ordinated strategy" for the City.

The initiative, thought to be the first of its kind, is due for publication within the coming months, the economic daily said.

Brown, who has been chancellor of the exchequer since Labor's return to power in 1997, is widely regarded as the front-runner to lead his country when Blair steps down.

In his pre-budget report last December, Brown said Britain's economy would expand by 2.0-2.5 percent in 2006. British gross domestic product grew by 1.8 percent last year, the slowest pace since 1992, according to official data. Brown had originally forecast 2005 GDP growth at 3.0-3.5 percent.

(Chinadaily.com via agencies March 22, 2006)

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