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Olympics: Ministers' Bid To Boost China Trade

(c) Sky News 2012

As London welcomes the world for the Olympics, ministers are hoping to boost Britain's trade with China as they tout for business and encourage investment.

Foreign Secretary William Hague and Business Secretary Vince Cable are to attend a special business summit for China today - part of a series of trade events to promote British business to global leaders .

Mr Hague said: "China Business Day represents a clear commitment to further strengthening the UK and China's relationship, building on our growing shared interests and working together towards mutual prosperity."

China, the world's second biggest economy and whose capital Beijing hosted the last Games in 2008, has rocketed from seventh to third in the league of nations launching inward investment projects in the UK over the past year.

The Government hopes the Games will generate economic growth in double-dip recession Britain, and is seizing the chance of world leaders descending on London to drum up business.

Ministers hope the series of summits will attract £1bn worth of British deals.

Today sees the first of two meetings dedicated to deals with individual countries; the other summit will be held with business leaders from Brazil, which hosts the next summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Brazil and China are two of the four "Bric (Chicago Options: ^RBRCUSD - news) " countries - the others are Russia and India - emerging economies set to become huge markets for global trade.

Mr Hague said: "Commercial diplomacy - using our diplomatic influence to help boost growth and attract inward investment - is a key element for the UK's economic recovery and future prosperity.

"It is at the heart of a huge amount of work occurring across the Foreign Office's worldwide network of missions. Engaging with the emerging economies is a vital part of this effort."

Today's meeting comes as the Government announced a series of coups for the UK's relationship with China.

British companies have won more than £600,000 of construction contracts for the Beijing Green Building Park; China Southern Airlines opens its new office at Heathrow next month, and Chinese men's fashion chain Bosideng opened a £35m store on London's Bond Street employing 40 workers, earlier this week.

Last year, trade between Britain and China countries was worth £44.6bn. It is due to rise to £63.7bn by 2015.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "We are taking every opportunity to maximise the economic benefits of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012.

"Around four billion people will tune in to watch the opening ceremony this evening, and every day of the Olympics will be another incredible chance to show the world what Britain represents today, and what we have to offer.

"We will continue to do all we can to provide a welcome environment for Chinese business and investment, and to support emerging Chinese brands as they take their businesses to the global markets, including the UK."