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Delegation seals US$2b deals in UK

A CHINESE business delegation sealed deals amounting to US$2 billion with British firms in London yesterday in a significant move to stave off protectionism in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The agreement between Hainan Airlines Co and Rolls-Royce Plc was the largest deal, totaling US$1.2 billion. Rolls-Royce is to provide 20 Airbus 330 engines, in addition to a 15-year service support.

The 11 procurement deals and agreements covered areas ranging from textiles, metal services, airplane and automobile parts, eco-town building and motion pictures.

The Chinese delegation, led by Commerce Minister Chen Deming, included state-owned and private companies as well as joint ventures from various industries. Britain was the last leg of a four-nation procurement tour in Europe after Germany, Switzerland and Spain.

The business team signed more than 20 procurement deals with Spanish firms in Madrid on Thursday worth US$320 million, witnessed by Chen and Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Miguel Sebastian.

The contracts and agreements covered a wide range of industrial and agricultural commodities, including aircraft simulators, auto parts, steel, wool, marble, seafood, olive oil, wine and ham.

Sino-Spanish trade has been growing quickly and bilateral trade topped US$26.2 billion last year, making China Spain's biggest trading partner outside the European Union, Chen said.

He said the Chinese government was keen to keep the country's doors open to foreign goods and services at a time when the world economy was in crisis.

"Only through opening markets can world trade start to pick up again. Protectionism will not help the world economy to recover," he said.

Chen warned against trade protectionism, saying such a tendency, at a time when the financial turmoil posed serious challenges to the world economy, would exacerbate and prolong the global economic crisis.


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