British, Chinese Firms Seal Major Aviation Deal

Deals are worth $1.9 billion

A $1.2 billion deal between British jet engine maker Rolls-Royce and Hainan Airlines of China was announced on Feb. 27 as British and Chinese firms signed deals worth up to $1.9 billion.

The announcements, sealed at a ceremony in London attended by China's Trade Minister Chen Deming and Britain's Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, came on the last leg of a Chinese trade tour of Europe.

The $1.2 billion deal is for the purchase of Rolls-Royce jet engines and a service contract for Hong Kong Airlines planes, it was announced.

Afterwards, Chen said all the deals underlined China and Britain's joint commitment to the "fight against protectionism." In a warning against protectionism, he added: "We should also realize there is no coordination between these stimulus packages and some countries are working to protect their own national interests."

Relying on a handful of large economies to pull the world out of trouble was not enough, he said, urging cooperation.

Representatives from Chinese companies signed a number of high-profile deals on their sweep through Europe, including more than $10 billion of tie-ups with German firms. The visit also took in Spain and Switzerland.

The EU is China's largest trading partner, its most important source for technology imports and its largest export destination, while China is the EU's second-largest trading partner.

On the final leg of the visit, representatives from hundreds of British firms met a delegation of around 150 Chinese companies including Baoshan Iron and Steel, China Construction Bank and Bank of China.

Around ten deals in total were also signed in London including smaller ones between steelmaker Corus, owned by India's Tata Steel, and the Chinese Petroleum Company for the supply of pipes, and a supply contract between Jaguar Land Rover, owned by Tata Motors, and SCAS Investment Group.

"In this challenging global climate, China represents a great opportunity for UK business. By 2010 its market could account for over two trillion dollars of global imports and exports," said Mandelson.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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