British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable, a key member of British Prime Minister David Cameron's delegation to Beijing, talked to China Daily's Zhang Haizhou about his mission during the visit. Excerpts of the interview follow:
Q: Are you satisfied with your visit to China? What is its most important outcome?
A. The United Kingdom and China are partners for growth, and this visit has been extremely important for forging a long-term relationship. That for me is the most important outcome.
What I have seen in the last few days has underlined how great the potential is for cooperation between our two countries. I am really pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss trade and investment with senior members of the Chinese government and with businesses of all shapes and sizes.
The Business Summit this week, which gathered about 400 delegates, was very successful and should lay the foundation for further cooperation, including UK and Chinese enterprises working together to realize commercial opportunities in third markets.
A good number of deals have been announced. They include the Rolls-Royce 750-million ($1.205 billion) agreement, the announcement of a $500-million UK-China investment fund, the geographical indicator status to protect the production of Scotch whisky and other accords - more than 40 in total - many covering areas of the UK's knowledge economy, including urban planning, education and low-carbon technologies.
We want to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015 but this is not something that can be achieved overnight. It is a marathon not a sprint, which is as I had expected.
Q: The UK is the biggest investor among the 27 European Union (EU) member states in China with $16.75 billion in investments. But China is only the sixth largest investor in the UK with just $1 billion. What is the major hurdle Chinese investors face in the UK?
A. I think there are very strong opportunities in the UK, and I would encourage Chinese companies to come and look for themselves. I think they will be surprised and excited by what they see. The capabilities of China and the UK are very complementary.
Over the past two years, we have had record numbers of new investment projects from China and strong performance from other markets as well. During this visit alone, we have highlighted nine new or recent inward investment projects, with initial investment of more than 300 million ($481.79 million).
We have more than 400 Chinese companies in the UK, but I would like to see this number increase.
The UK welcomes investment across the board, and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government department that helps companies locate in the UK, is able to tackle any hurdles that might emerge.
In our experience, however, Chinese investors find that it is easy to operate in the UK.
Q: What are the major difficulties that UK investors face in China?
A. Alongside Germany, the UK is the EU's top investor in China and more than 16,000 British companies are registered there (in China). On this trade mission, we've had some of our best-known companies with us, such as Barclays, Standard Chartered and Alliance Boots, which are seeking to expand cooperation.
Prime Minister David Cameron dropped into Tesco in Beijing last week. This is a UK company that has made a substantial commitment to China and is increasing it by a further $3 billion.
The attraction for UK companies is obvious. China is the world's second largest economy and, as it grows, the services and goods that the UK excels in are becoming an ever better fit.
We are keen for companies to explore all regions of China. UKTI recently published a survey giving details about the benefits of doing business outside of the main centers such as Beijing and Shanghai.
Our message to the UK is that China is a hugely important market and UK companies should use the help available to them to seek out the opportunities.