A new trade commission has warned the UK to treat China with "kid gloves", and focus on attempts to secure deals with countries with "similar values"

Mark Sands
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Conservative Party Autumn Conference 2015 - Day 3
The UK should treat China with "kid gloves" according to the group (Source: Getty)

A group of global trade experts are calling on the UK to focus on negotiations with culturally similar nations, warning the UK to treat China “with kid gloves”.

The new, independent special trade commission will operate through think tank Legatum, and features former advisers to both President Obama and former President George W Bush.

The group is led by Shanker Singham, a trade and competition lawyer who advised both Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio in their presidential election campaigns.

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Singham also said the UK should focus its efforts first on deals with the likes of the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand, which he argued share similar values.

“Open trade, competitive markets and the protection of property rights form the key pillars of economic growth. However, all countries should be able to join if they demonstrate a commitment to these same values,” Singham said.

He added that negotiations with China should be approached with caution, and cited the UK's recent decision to delay final approval on the Hinkley Point reactors as a recognition of the potential security implications.

"Any country that distorts its market through state-owned enterprises should be treated with kid gloves,” Singham said.

“The Chinese oversupply of steel was one of the main reasons why the steel mills in Port Talbot and Redcar ran into difficulties."

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May has also said the UK will not trigger Brexit talks until next year, with some calling on her to wait as long as next Autumn to avoid French and German elections.

However, Singham warned that a wait of this length would only engender further uncertainty, and risk the UK missing out on further foreign investment.

"While formal talks cannot begin until then, the government needs to put in place a game-plan now which sets out its approach to negotiations with both EU and non-EU countries," he said.

"This needs to be done together in order to ensure that the UK can get the best deal possible."

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