British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond says the country is considering a free trade deal with China, further warning that Brexit could cast a “shadow” on the world economy.
The British finance minister made the remarks on the sidelines of the G20 meeting of leading world economies in an interview with the BBC and Sky News on Sunday in the Chinese city of Chengdu.
At a referendum in June, Britons narrowly voted to quit the European Union, which, according to Hammond, is “not the only shadow the world economy faces.”
“There is going to be uncertainty about the outcome hanging over the world economic outlook for perhaps the next couple of years,” Hammond said in the interview that followed the UK-China High Level Financial Services Roundtable at the Bank of China.
He further suggested that despite the decision, Britain welcomes increasing economic ties particularly with Asian powers.
“At the same time, there are very exciting opportunities opening up with China, with Australia, with India, and with many other countries” he said.
Asked if he considered a free trade deal with Beijing, Hammond replied: “Definitely I could see such a thing.”
“We already have a strategic partnership with China… Once we are out of the European Union then I have no doubt on both sides we will want to cement that relationship into a firmer structure in a bilateral way,” he noted.
In his visit, the British foreign minister was being accompanied by a high-ranking delegation of figures from Britain’s financial services companies, including HSBC, Virgin Money, the London Stock Exchange and Standard Life.
Prior to Britain’s decision to exit the bloc, Chinese President Xi Jinping had expressed hope that the country would remain an EU member to support the “deepening development of China-EU ties.”
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May, who won the premiership in the wake of Brexit, discussed a trade deal with Australia in a phone call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Foreign Office junior minister Alok Sharma was also sent to India on Monday to boost economic cooperation with New Delhi.
“Britain is open for business and thriving on the world stage. We want the strongest possible relationship with India,” Sharma said.