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Sino-UK trade in 2012 looks rosy on all sides

By Song Shengxia (Global Times)

08:22, January 14, 2013

China and Britain saw a remarkable growth of trade and economic ties in 2012 despite the deepening of the eurozone debt crisis and the slow recovery of the global economy, data released by the Chinese embassy in Britain showed over the weekend.

Bilateral trade in goods between the two nations soared to $63.1 billion in 2012, up 7.5 percent from a year earlier, according to data released Saturday by the Economic and Commercial Counselor's Office of the Chinese embassy in Britain.

China's exports to Britain reached $46.3 billion in 2012, up 4.9 percent from the previous year, while imports from Britain surged 15.5 percent year-on-year to $16.8 billion, the data showed.

The steady growth of trade between the two countries has been hard-won, especially as demand from EU countries shrank and trade protectionism mounted during the eurozone debt crisis, Zhou Xiaoming, Minister Counselor for Economy and Commerce at the Chinese embassy in Britain, was quoted by Xinhua as saying Saturday.

Britain was the only country among China's major trade partners in the EU which reported positive growth in trade with China in 2012, while China's bilateral trade with Germany, France and Italy, as well as the EU on the whole, declined in the year.

"Although Britain is a key member of the EU, it does not participate in the eurozone, where trade policies are rather conservative amid the persistent eurozone debt crisis. Trade wars launched by eurozone countries against China have surely affected their trade with China," Zhao Yongsheng, a visiting scholar with the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Sunday.

"Britain hosting last year's Olympic Games also contributed to the trade growth and closer economic ties between China and Britain. Tourism increased in Britain last year, with many Chinese tourists flocking there," Zhao said.

Saturday's data also showed that Chinese companies completed 10 investment, merger and acquisition deals in Britain in 2012, worth more than $8 billion overall and exceeding the total value reported between 2009 and 2011.

Britain's direct investment in China reached $18.1 billion between January and November 2012, ranking second in the EU after Germany, the data showed.

"Economic development in China and Britain are complementary. There are a number of areas in Britain that China could learn from," Cai Tao, brand director at the China Entrepreneur Club in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Cai - who organized a delegation of Chinese entrepreneurs that visited Britain in July and included Liu Chuanzhi, founder of China's largest PC maker Lenovo Group - said Chinese entrepreneurs were interested in how British businesses have built brands that last for more than a hundred years, as well as the innovative operation of vibrant small and medium-sized firms in Britain.

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