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Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 22:39
UK open to foreign investment, trade minister tells China
By Agencies
Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 22:39 By Agencies

Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox arrives in Downing Street in central London on Oct 9, 2017. (BEN STANSALL / AFP)

BEIJING - British trade minister Liam Fox said on Wednesday that London would continue to welcome foreign investment.

Fox was on a visit to China, the latest installment in long-running economic talks between China and Britain, which has taken on new importance for Britain as it looks to re-invent itself as a global trading nation after leaving the European Union in 2019.

Fox's remarks came after a US panel rejected China's Ant Financial's acquisition of MoneyGram International.

The UK has traditionally been an open country, welcoming of foreign direct investment. And we'll continue to do that

Liam Fox, British trade minister

Asked whether Britain would serve as an alternative destination for such Chinese investment, Fox told Reuters in an interview that he hoped the investment relationship would "work in two directions", but that Britain would remain open.

"Of course, we would look, as other countries would do, at our security issues in terms of investment. But the UK has traditionally been an open country, welcoming of foreign direct investment. And we'll continue to do that," Fox said.

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He did not comment specifically on the US panel decision.

China is one of the countries with which Britain hopes to sign a free trade pact once it leaves the EU, and London and Beijing have been keen to show that Britain's withdrawal from the bloc will not affect ties.

Fox said there were more options than a post-Brexit free trade agreement (FTA) with Beijing, including specific service sector agreements and mutual recognition deals.

"There are a whole range of tools in the box. And people tend to talk as though an FTA is the only tool we have available in terms of trade liberalization. It's not," he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to visit China later this month accompanied by a business delegation, diplomatic and business sources have told Reuters, though the trip has not been formally confirmed.

Too soon to seek membership of TPP

Also on Wednesday, Fox said it was too soon to seek membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.

"We don't know what the success of the TPP is going to yet look like, because it isn't yet negotiated. So it would be a little bit premature for us to be wanting to sign up to something that we're not sure what the final details will look like," Fox told Reuters in an interview.

"However, we have said that we want to be an open outward looking country, and therefore it would be foolish for us to rule out any particular outcomes for the future. So we'll keep an open mind, and we'll want to talk to our global trading partners."

READ MORE: Brexit offer to EU citizens leaves many cold

The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Britain had started informal talks about joining the bloc in a bid to boost post-Brexit exports. It quoted a junior trade minister saying there was no geographical restriction on the deal.

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