Osborne on mission to attract Asian investment
LONDON, Jan 15 — Chancellor George Osborne travels to China and Japan this week in a drive to attract Asian investment and lift Britain’s faltering economy.
Osborne’s tour, which begins in Hong Kong tomorrow and takes him to Beijing and Tokyo over the following two days, is aimed at strengthening ties in financial services, infrastructure and innovation, British officials said.
Britain’s coalition government has launched a drive to expand trade and investment ties with major developed and emerging economies outside Europe to lessen its dependence on trade with the crisis-hit euro zone.
“A richer, stronger Asia is an opportunity for the world, not a threat. I believe we can make Britain the home of Asian investment and Asian finance in the West,” Osborne will say in a speech in Hong Kong tomorrow at the Asian Financial Forum, a gathering of business and government leaders.
Excerpts of Osborne’s speech were released by his office.
Osborne will meet the finance ministers and central bank governors of both China and Japan as well as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and investors, his office said.
He will also meet Lou Jiwei, the chairman of China Investment Corporation (CIC), the country’s US$410 billion (RM1.283 trillion) sovereign wealth fund, and Jiang Jianqing, chairman of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China’s largest lender.
Lou has said China is keen to invest in the ailing infrastructure of Western countries, especially Britain.
Osborne is looking to boost investment in British infrastructure as a way of lifting the British economy, which is teetering dangerously close to falling back into recession as the government pushes through austerity plans to rein in a big budget deficit.
In November, Osborne said he would target pension funds to provide the bulk of around £30 billion (RM144.3 billion) of new capital investment in Britain.
The British government gave the green light last week to a £32.7 billion high-speed rail network linking London, Birmingham and cities further north.
Osborne’s visit comes against the backdrop of the euro zone crisis and attempts by euro zone leaders to persuade nations with big foreign reserves such as China to invest in leveraging the lending capacity of Europe’s bailout fund.
Osborne said last week that Britain, which is outside the euro zone, was prepared to increase its contribution to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if other leading non-European countries join in. But he repeated his resistance to any form of support directly earmarked for the euro zone debt crisis.
“We have to act alongside other shareholders like Japan, like China, like Australia and so on,” Osborne said last week. — Reuters