Britain is teaming up with Hong Kong to secure London a top spot as an offshore trading centre for the Chinese currency the yuan.
The move is part of efforts by the UK to boost trade and investment ties with fast-growing Asian markets.
Britain’s finance ministry and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority will work together on areas such as developing new financial products denominated in yuan.
Britain won the Chinese government’s backing for London to become an offshore trading centre for the yuan last year.
In a speech at the Asia Financial Forum on Monday, Britain’s finance minister George Osborne also urged countries to fight protectionist tendencies and repeated Britain’s willingness to add further funding to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Speaking only days after ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded a number of eurozone countries including France, Osborne applauded progress made by the euro area though he urged further actions to restore sustainable finances and growth.
Britain’s coalition government has launched a drive to expand trade and investment ties with major developed and emerging economies outside Europe to lessen its dependence on trade with the crisis-hit euro zone.
“I believe that we can make Britain the home of Asian investment and Asian finance in Europe,” Osborne said at the start of the trip to China and Japan.
With Britain close to recession again, Osborne will meet the finance ministers and central bank governors of China and Japan as well as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and investors during his trip aimed at strengthening ties in financial services, infrastructure and innovation.