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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 07:46 GMT
China trade base first for London
Ken Livingstone at the Victoria & Albert Museum
Mr Livingstone wants London to be China's base in Europe
London is to open its first trade offices abroad, mayor Ken Livingstone has announced.

They will both operate in China, with one in the capital Beijing and the other in Shanghai.

Mr Livingstone said he wants to make London the gateway to western Europe for China, which has the fastest growing economy in the world.

He added the offices will be paid for by the London Development Agency, which prepares the mayor's business plan.

Speaking from the reception for the Chinese ambassador at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Mr Livingstone said on Monday: "They [the offices] will be there to encourage trade, to encourage Chinese firms, tourists and students to come to London.

Ken Livingstone and others in the business community in London want a piece of the Chinese action
Jonathan Moules, Financial Times

"We would be mad, as China becomes the largest economy in the world over the next century, not for them to see London as their base into Europe."

The Financial Times' UK business correspondent, Jonathan Moules, told BBC News that improving links with the Chinese could prove lucrative for London.

He said: "China's is the fastest growing major economy in the world and the estimates are that by the middle of this century it will over take the as the world's largest economy.

"And just as we enjoy good trade links with the US, Ken Livingstone and others in the business community in London want a piece of the Chinese action.

"Traditionally Chinese companies have been going to Germany but there are signs that London is gaining favour over Germany and more companies are choosing London as their port of call or to set up a European headquarters."

The event also marked Tuesday's Chinese New Year.



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