Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled plans to make London the gateway for Eastern investment in the West.
During a speech in Hong Kong, Osborne called for UK companies to expand trade with Asian firms. He hopes this will make Britain the Western hub for trading in the renminbi, the Chinese currency. Osborne said the capital is primed to act as a conduit for Eastern trade.
Speaking to the Asian Financial Forum, he said: “London is perfectly placed to act as a gateway for Asian banking and investment in Europe, and a bridge to the US.
“This is not just an accident of time-zone, or our language, although both are important. It reflects London’s strength in product development, its regulatory structure and the depth, breadth and international reach of its financial markets.
“We are by some distance the world’s largest foreign exchange market; and the growing use of RMB in those global markets will bring substantial benefit to Chinese economic development and the wider world economy.”
In his first address of 2012, Osborne also stressed that despite the difficult conditions at present Britain still has plenty of “reasons to be bold”. The chancellor then outlined his plans for the UK over the next 12 months: “Even more than it already is, we want Britain to become one of the easiest places to invest, to raise capital, to start a business, to expand and to export from,” he said.
Following his Hong Kong visit, Osborne was preparing to travel to Beijing and then to spend time in Tokyo as he seeks to forge stronger ties with Asian countries – including discussions over the possibility of a renminbi, or RMB, market being established in London.
“A richer, stronger Asia is an opportunity for the world, not a threat – we should be bold enough to say it and to explain it to our own populations,” he said.
“Second, we in Britain can build on our position as the home of Asian investment and Asian finance in Europe – provided we’re bold enough to do what it takes to make that happen, and we will.
“And third, with a new alliance between Britain and our friends in Asia, we can be bold in defeating the forces of protectionism and make global finance a force for good, not instability.”