LONDON, June 20 (Xinhua) -- UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, in a speech published on a UK government website Wednesday, said the UK welcomed the steps that China, the world's second largest economy, had taken to facilitate global trade.
Addressing the Centre for Policy Studies' UK-China conference on Tuesday, Fox noted the role of China's success in re-balancing of the world economy.
"For policymakers and those whose job it is to help shape the global trading environment, China's success is part of the wider story of the re-balancing of the global economy, with nations across Asia and the Far East recording levels of growth far above that of the traditional advanced economies of the Western world, with a consequent shift in global influence," said the trade official.
He said the total trade between the two nations last year amounted to some 67.5 billion pounds (89.16 billion U.S. dollars) -- a 13.8 percent increase from 2016.
In 2017, British companies and consumers bought more Chinese products than ever before, around 45 billion pounds worth, Fox said. But the most significant development was the upsurge in demand for British goods and services in China, with exports to the country up 32.2 percent on 2016.
"Research from Barclays Corporate Banking found that 57 percent of Chinese consumers were willing to pay more for British products, because of their quality," he said.
Skills from accountancy to financial services to architecture to life sciences to education were among the exports.
"So, there is good reason to believe that our trade with China will continue to grow," he said.
Speaking about the recent developments regarding trade tariffs and trade protectionism, he said: "Unless we maintain an open and liberal global trading system, reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers, we will put at risk future jobs, growth and prosperity."
He added that the UK would work with its partners to liberalize international trade, "remove barriers to commerce where we can, to help our businesses and ensure greater choice and cheaper prices for consumers."
Fox said the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China was among the most ambitious projects in the world today as it represents an unprecedented opportunity to promote greater trade, connectivity and integration across Asia, Europe and Africa.
"Seldom has the world seen such an ambitious program of investment, with such potential to stimulate global trade."
"As one of the world's greatest exponents of free and open international trade, this is central to the United Kingdom's engagement with the initiative."
He believes that the initiative holds great potential for the UK and China to collaborate, calling the UK a "natural partner" and a "Western anchor" for the Belt and Road Initiative.
"It will create more opportunities to work together with others on global health, peacekeeping, conflict prevention, and crisis response," said Fox.
It was "the Golden Era of UK-China relations", said Fox, adding that it was "only just beginning".
"As China continues to astound the world with its economic progress, a newly global Britain emerging from Brexit will be ready to build a constructive partnership, working towards greater global prosperity and stability, and rooted in a rules-based international system."