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UK trade minister sees growing bilateral business partnership

作者:admin 2020-11-07

UK trade minister sees growing bilateral business partnership

British Minister for Exports Graham Stuart Photo: Courtesy of British Department of International Trade

Editor's Note: 

As the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) officially kicked off on Thursday in
Shanghai, the Global Times (GT) London correspondent talked to British Minister for Exports Graham Stuart (Stuart) about the UK's participation in the event.

GT: Why is it important to attend the CIIE, especially when the world is still battling COVID-19?

Stuart: UK and Chinese companies in 2018 signed deals worth more than 2 billion pounds ($2.61 billion) across multiple sectors. And we hope similar success can be replicated at the CIIE this year. So I think, the CIIE is a major moment in the year to cement that growing trading relationship between China and the UK. 

In trade, ultimately it comes down to whether you do business or not. And as I say, whether you look at specific deals at the CIIE, the record is that it leads to real business. And if you look at the bigger picture in which the CIIE plays a part, then there's significant growing trade between the two countries. So we evaluate the CIIE as being very important. And that's why we're delighted to be represented. 

GT: It's the third time that the UK has joined the CIIE. Why did you choose the food and drink industry to showcase this time? 

Stuart: There's enormous potential we believe for trade between the UK and China in this field. The current signs are highly encouraging. Between 2015 and 2019, UK fish and seafood exports to China increased by 85 percent, with total exports valued at 131 million pounds in 2019. But that's just to give you a little tiny sample. 

We feel that we can increase these numbers further. While there are many sectors where we do a lot of trade in China, food and drink is one of the standout examples, one for which we think there's tremendous potential given the appetite of Chinese consumers. 

GT: What do you expect from the CIIE this year? 

Stuart: It's a unique opportunity because of the nature of the event to deepen the UK's long-term economic cooperation with China. The UK-China trade relationship has gone from strength to strength. China is now the UK's third-largest export market after the EU and the US. And indeed last year saw trade between the UK and China go through the 100 billion pound mark for the very first time: it was 104.5 billion pounds in 2019. We grew our exports, overtook France to become the fifth-largest exporter in the world, and second only to Germany and Europe as an exporting superpower. And our trade with China has been an important part of that.

GT: We have seen some contradictions in the political field between China and the UK recently. If Chinese companies want to invest or cooperate in high-tech industries in the UK, would they be welcomed? Should they worry about being hindered in some way? 

Stuart: I think I can assure you that we remain open to Chinese investment and that's one of the reasons why we have more Chinese investment than any other country in Europe. And our presence at the CIIE and my virtual participation - I would have liked to have been there in person - is an indication of how the UK government is committed to a strong trading and investment relationship with China. In the UK, we make sure that whether on national security or other considerations, the investors are properly informed of our decision making.  

GT: What are the plans of the Department of International Trade to promote trade and communications between the UK and China, now and in the near future? 

Stuart: The UK is an independent trading nation for the first time in 45 years. As once again, we're determined at the WTO and other global forums to champion the case for free trade and resilient supply chains through open markets. And we think that work has shown to be even more important during the COVID-19 experience. 

CIIE brings together such a huge number of senior figures across the business and political spectrums that it will be hugely beneficial in this respect. And it is so important to show the benefits to all parties of a lowering of barriers to trade, and facilitating and supporting it. The expo will provide a great opportunity to discuss how we can work together to find innovative solutions that will increase trade even more during the pandemic, and allow the global economy to bounce back so that it ends up stronger than it was before COVID-19 as we recover from it. 

Now COVID-19 has impacted British companies being able physically to participate in the CIIE, but it has far from dampened the will and desire to participate, which I think is higher than ever. And that's why this year we put a lot of effort into immersive digital offerings. The UK's presence at the CIIE will see groundbreaking offline and online activity integrate to provide an interactive 360-degree experience for the CIIE audience whether participating in person or virtually or in some combination of the two.

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