Secretary of State for Wales speech to the UK/China Joint Economic and Trade Commission Lunch Banquet at City Hall, Cardiff.
Minister and Honoured Guests, Secretary of State, First Minister, Ambassador, Ladies and Gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure on behalf of Her Majesty’s government and as Secretary of State for Wales to join you for lunch today and to add my welcome to our guests from China, in particular Vice Minister Gao Hucheng.
The United Kingdom, like China, has its own form of regional governance. And as the office that represents Wales at the Cabinet table in London as well as representing the UK government in Wales. It is a pleasure to support this Joint Economic and Trade Commission and the Welsh government today.
It is particularly auspicious that this event is held in the week of the tenth anniversary of China’s membership of the World Trade Organisation.
This decade has seen great change in China, and accelerated economic development, perhaps unmatched in human history.
This growth in itself has delivered prosperity to countless millions and you are rightly proud of your achievements.
It has also made China an ever-more important and significant international actor, and a valued partner for the United Kingdom and Wales.
Our partnership - and friendship - is growing ever closer and the success of the recent visits of both Premier Wen and Vice Premier Li to the UK in the last year, and the many visits of my colleagues including the Prime Minister reflect the strengthening of our connections.
And in the light of our growing economic and trade relations building on our foundations, the UK is increasing its diplomatic presence in China.
We are adding around 50 members of staff and we will soon open, with the Ministry for Foreign Affair’s agreement, a sixth consulate in China .
When many Foreign Office budgets around the world are diminishing the importance we attach to our relationship with China is evidenced by this growth.
As a government we have put increasing commercial links at the heart of our foreign policy and we are well-placed to assist Chinese investors into the UK as well as UK business activity in China.
But I particularly hope to see increased business between Wales and China. You will have seen that Wales not only offers a number of cost and location advantages but also a welcoming business environment for inward investors
And having heard good reports on the progress of our talks this week at all levels, I look forward to future developments as we explore business opportunities to our mutual benefit.
May I close by thanking the delegation from China for their part in these valuable bilateral discussions, and by thanking the First Minister and Welsh Business Minister for hosting this commission with my colleagues. Collaboration between our governments is working well in the interests of the UK and Wales and all those who seek to do business here.