The UK has made a significant step forward towards a lucrative trade deal with China as new foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt spearheaded a charm offensive in Asia yesterday. The foreign secretary held talks with senior Chinese ministers as Britain prepares for freedom outside the EU.
A free trade deal between China and the EU has proved elusive but countries like Switzerland have had more success with bilateral agreements.
Once the UK can forge its own trade policy again it will be able to crack a market which membership of the EU has limited British access.
Mr Hunt said the two countries were both “major powers with a global perspective” ahead of talks with his Beijing counterpart Wang Yi in the Chinese capital.
He stressed Britain’s commitment to deepening ties post-Brexit between the nations when he attends the UK-China Strategic Dialogue on Monday.
Trade, North Korea, nuclear weapons and climate change were among the topics up for discussion.
A free trade deal with China along with the USA, Australia and New Zealand has emerged as an early priority for post Brexit Britain as it continues to boom after the historic vote to Leave.
More than 30 counties have expressed an interest for deals with Britain which the government hopes will become a beacon of free trade and transform into a truly global Britain.
Mr Hunt, who replaced Boris Johnson in July, was bullish about prospects for a good relationship with China after Brexit.
“As the UK leaves the EU and becomes ever-more outward-looking, we are committed to deepening this vital partnership for the 21st century.
“The UK-China Strategic Dialogue is an important opportunity to intensify our co-operation on shared challenges in international affairs, ranging from global free trade to non-proliferation and environmental challenges, under the UK-China global partnership and ‘golden era’ for UK-China relations.”
Such a positive attitude towards trade will be vital as the UK leaves the EU. A relationship with China in particular, which is the world’s largest economy, will send signals to the rest of the world that Britain is open for business.