Prime Minister David Cameron has been working hard to improve ties with China while on a visit to the county, including trying his hand at Mandarin.
During a lunch at Shanghai’s business centre, Mr Cameron urged business people to invest in the UK, saying: “If you are investing in Britain, invest more.
“If you are thinking of investing in Britain, come and find us. You will get a warm welcome.”
He won applause by outlining plans for same-day visas regarding business visits to the UK, and received a warm welcome for his attempts at Mandarin.
At a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, the PM said one of his major aims was to liberalise trade between China and the EU, the latter being the world’s largest trading bloc and China’s biggest trading partner. Economic analysts have suggested that such a deal could benefit the UK economy by up to £1.8 billion a year.
Mr Cameron said: “Britain is uniquely placed to make the case for deepening the European Union’s trade and investment relationship with China.
“Building on the recent launch of EU-China negotiations on investment, and on China’s continued commitment to economic reform, I now want to set a new long-term goal of an ambitious and comprehensive EU-China free trade agreement.
“And as I have on the EU-US deal, so I will put my full political weight behind such a deal which could be worth tens of billions of dollars every year.”
Downing Street has said that business deals worth a total of £5.6 billion and involving the creation of 1,500 new jobs in the UK have already been struck since the Prime Minister started his three-day-trip on December 2.
One of the deals involves Manchester-based Sweet Mandarin foods. The £6 million contract will see the company supply gluten and monosodium glutimate-free Chinese sauces to China.
The biggest deal was secured by Jaguar Land Rover. A total of 100,000 vehicles will be supplied to China for sale over the next year in a deal worth £4.5 billion.
The firm already runs a technical academy in Beijing with the capacity to train 4,500 people a year, including technicians, sales consultants and service advisers.
Jaguar Land Rover’s activities in China indirectly support 38,000 British jobs and China has now overtaken Britain to become its largest market.
Rolls-Royce aero-engines has also sealed a £70 million contract to get involved in supplying infrastructure for a power systems company.
And Surrey Satellites signed a £110 million agreement with a Chinese technology company to work on a new satellite system under the auspices of a memorandum of understanding on UK/China space co-operation signed by the chief executive of the UK Space Agency, David Parker, and his Chinese counterpart.
Previously, Mr Cameron talked of his desire for a “ambitious and comprehensive EU-China free trade agreement”. He said he believes that cutting tariffs in sectors such as vehicles, pharmaceuticals and electrical goods, could mean a boost of £600 million a year for UK exporters.
The Prime Minister said: “I hope that by advancing and extending our bilateral trade, by working together on the global issues that affect us all, and by maintaining an honest and open dialogue, my visit to China can plant the seeds of a long-term relationship which will benefit China, Britain and the world for generations to come.”