China

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 22nd February 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Hammersmith and Fulham 10:30 am, 22nd February 2007

If he will make a statement on his Department's efforts to increase trade with China.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

We are engaging with our Chinese counterparts at the highest level through our annual summits and joint economic trade commissions—JETCs—as well as the Deputy Prime Minister's China taskforce, which has a substantial trade element. Indeed, the taskforce is meeting as we speak. During my visit to China, I established a rapport with the Chinese Government, which I have used to good effect—pressing China to further open its markets, marketing the United Kingdom's strengths, lobbying on some of the key company issues, and assisting in the realisation of major contracts, such as the Rolls-Royce £400m engine contract with Air China and Arup's contract to design Kunming airport.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Hammersmith and Fulham

The UK trade deficit with China in the past five years has been £3.8 billion, £5 billion, £6 billion, £7.3 billion and, finally, £9.4 billion. The Minister mentioned the China taskforce under the Deputy Prime Minister, which has as one of its four priorities the promotion of trade and investment between the UK and China. To what concrete achievements of the China taskforce in promoting trade with China can he point?

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

It never ceases to amaze me that when we are trying to promote the United Kingdom in one of the world's growing market, we get no continuity of support for either British business or British investment. It is not just the taskforce that is promoting trade with China—that is also happening at prime ministerial level, between the two Prime Ministers, and at Secretary of State level across the economy. It involves business after business and the City of London. There is now a 19 per cent. increase in UK exports to China. Our exports to China are growing faster than imports from China. That never happened under the Conservative Government. In the service sector, there is a 2:1 balance in favour of trade with the UK. We have the right policies, the right programmes, the right relationship and the right businesses to do business effectively with China.