Britain Goes to China in Search of Life After Brexit

  • Treasury chief to put ‘strong emphasis’ on financial services
  • Says U.K.-China relations are ‘more important than ever’

Philip Hammond, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer.

Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is visiting China on Friday to promote business opportunities in the Asian powerhouse in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. 

Hammond, who is due to meet fellow Group of 20 finance ministers in Chengdu this weekend, will put a "strong emphasis on the financial-services sector" during the trip, which will see him host an event in Beijing attended by firms including HSBC Holdings Plc, Clifford Chance,London Stock Exchange and senior representatives from China’s banking industry, according to a statement from the British Treasury.

At meetings with Chinese political leaders and businesses, Hammond will say that China-U.K. relations will not change following Brexit.

"My focus in China will be on promoting British business opportunities, including in the financial-services sector, where Britain is a world leader," Hammond said in the statement. "We have built a strong economic relationship with China, and as Chinese investments into the U.K. continue to diversify and as U.K. exports grow, Sino-U.K. relations are more important than ever.”

Following the June 23 Brexit vote, Britain is faced with negotiating new trade relationships with countries around the world. The government is adding as many as 300 specialist staff to its trade team and the chancellor’s China visit will be the first of a series to Britain’s “key economic partners,” according to the Treasury.

Hopes of a prompt trade deal with the U.S. were dealt a blow this week, when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that an agreement could only be negotiated once Britain’s exit from the EU was complete.

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