China, Britain ink $4b deals

08:09, January 11, 2011      

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China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang (L) walks with Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg (R), in 10 Downing Street, London January 10, 2011. (Photo/Agencies)

China and the United Kingdom are determined to strengthen trade ties, as the two countries inked 2.6 billion pounds ($4 billion) worth of deals on Monday, the second day of Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's UK visit.

Li held talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in London. The topics discussed covered international security and climate change, which the UK and China have worked closely together on.

A total of 15 deals were signed, including a deal on China sending two pandas to Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, and a commitment by Jaguar Land Rover to increase sales to China. Others cover finance, energy and climate change.

"We had successful talks covering a range of issues, and we witnessed the signing of a number of agreements, including commercial deals with an estimated contract value of at least 2.6 billion pounds," Clegg said.

"This week's visit, and the agreements we have seen today … demonstrate the momentum we are building together towards even stronger relations. The kind gift of a loan of a breeding pair of giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yangguang, is a sign that we can cooperate closely on a broad range of environmental and cultural issues, as well as commerce," he added.

He said the deals will safeguard 700 jobs in the UK and are estimated to have the potential to create many more.

Both countries are keen to strengthen economic ties during the four-day visit that began in Scotland on Sunday. Cameron said ahead of the talks that better ties with China would boost British "trade, jobs, and economic growth".

Accompanied by some 120 business leaders from China, Li arrived in Edinburgh on Sunday.

While in Scotland, Li signed a $10 million renewable energy technology licensing deal. The contract will allow technology pioneered in Scotland to be used to generate power from domestic rubbish at a plant in China.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said the agreement was sealed between Sino-Scots firm Shanghai Huanuan Boiler and Vessel Co/Cochran and Scotland-based W2E Engineering, experts in turning waste into electrical energy via gasification.

The agreement will see W2E providing Shanghai Huanuan with some $60 million worth of business per year for 10 years, he said. The work will be carried out in Annan, Dumfriesshire, and at a new facility in China. "China already has the largest deployment of onshore renewable technology and Scotland is a world-leader in pioneering the technology and the application of clean, green energy," Salmond said.

But Alex Mackinnon, an international strategy consultant based in Scotland and co-author of China Calling: A Foot in the Global Door and China Counting: How the West Was Lost, said the deal is "just a peanut in the global scheme".

"We have a mutually exclusive position. China thinks small when visiting Scotland – I wonder why?" said Mackinnon, stressing both sides "have mutually beneficial opportunities".

"Li suggests that China wishes to learn from and import technologies, equipment and management expertise from Scotland. Perhaps banking expertise would be bottom of the list but what about Health Service administrative expertise for a rural population? What about adaptation expertise in management - Scotland traditionally sent expatriates around the world and now China is doing the same!" he added.

The operators of the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland also struck a deal with China's largest oil and gas producer to safeguard the future of the facility.

Grangemouth refinery operators Ineos announced the joint venture with PetroChina, which will see them work together and share skills, according to the BBC.

The Grangemouth deal will secure 2,000 Scottish jobs, the Scottish government said.

Li will wrap up his UK visit on Wednesday. He will also meet Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Duke of York, and address a business banquet at the China-Britain Business Council.

He will also visit a sustainability project in Watford.

By Zhang Haizhou and Zhang Chunyan, chinadaily.com.cn
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