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China: Trade and Investment

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 15 November 2018

3. What recent discussions he has had with the Chinese Government on increasing bilateral trade and investment. (907611)

I have made five visits to China this year. The most recent was when I led the UK delegation to China’s International Import Expo in Shanghai this month, supporting British firms to sign deals worth over £2 billion.

Our ratio of goods and services exports to the world outside the European Union is roughly 50:50. Eighty per cent. of our exports to China are goods, which suggests that the Chinese service market is not as open as it should be. Therefore, much of our effort is based on trying to encourage the Government of China to open up its services, which of course would be of benefit to the United Kingdom, the world’s second biggest services exporter.

Let me put on record my thanks for the work that the Minister and others have done to secure the £250 million deal for Lakeland Dairies’ milk products over a five-year period, which secures jobs as well.

In the past 10 years alone, China’s GDP has tripled. What assessment has the Department made of the potential trade and investment opportunities for the UK, with special reference to the agri-food industry?

We are conducting a joint trade and investment review with China as part of looking ahead to deepen that relationship. Under the UK-China Joint Economic and Trade Commission, we lobby for increased market access sector by sector. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments; it is not the highest publicity aspect of the Department for International Trade, but opening up a sector worth quarter of a billion pounds to Northern Ireland is a big achievement.

Last year, British exports to China grew by 28%. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of how that trajectory will rise over the next few years?

We know from a number of consumer surveys that about 60% of Chinese consumers say that they would pay a higher price for produce just because it is made in the United Kingdom. We are associated with the quality end of the global market, which is the rising market in China, and I expect our exports there to continue to grow apace.