UPDATE 2-Britain, China sign $4 billion of deals

Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:07pm EST

Related Topics

* Two giant pandas to be lent to Edinburgh Zoo for 10 years

* Tata Motors unit Jaguar Land Rover to raise sales to China

* BP signs pact on deepwater exploration in South China Sea

(Adds detail, quotes)

By Adrian Croft

LONDON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Britain and China signed business deals worth around 2.6 billion pounds ($4 billion) on Monday, as well as an agreement that will see a breeding pair of giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yuangguang, go to Edinburgh Zoo.

The deals foresee increased sales of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles to China. JLR, a unit of Indian group Tata Motors (TAMO.BO), has committed to sell 40,000 Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, worth more than 1 billion pounds, in China in 2011.

Oil major BP (BP.L) and the China National Offshore Oil Corp signed an agreement on deepwater exploration in the South China Sea, the British government said.

A BP spokesman said it was a cooperation agreement with CNOOC to explore in block 43-11 in the South China Sea.

The agreement came days after a U.S. commission said BP and its partners made a series of cost-cutting decisions that ultimately contributed to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Chinese oil giant PetroChina (0857.HK)(PTR.N) agreed to buy in to two refineries in France and Scotland of British firm INEOS [INEOSP.UL], expanding its global refining foothold as China caps domestic fuel prices to tame inflation. [nTOE70905Q]

The deals were signed during a visit to Britain by China's vice premier, Li Keqiang, widely tipped to become the next Chinese premier.

Billions of dollars of agreements were announced during Li's visits to Germany and Spain last week.

PANDA DIPLOMACY

The agreement to loan the giant pandas to Scotland for 10 years to boost research, conservation and tourism follows five years of high-level negotiation, Edinburgh Zoo said.

Tian Tian and Yuangguang, born in 2003, will be the first giant pandas to live in Britain for 17 years.

The gift of pandas, a popular attraction at zoos, is often used by China as a diplomatic tool. China gave two giant pandas to Taiwan in 2008, as a sign of warming relations.

China's ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, said China-UK relations should go beyond simply buying and selling.

"We all realise there are differences with regard to human rights issues. But I think it should not stand in the way of improving relations between our two countries," he told BBC radio.

Jaguar Land Rover chief executive Ralf Speth said the deal to sell more vehicles in China, the world's largest car market, "not only signals the acceleration of our growth plans but also reflects both the importance of the Chinese market to Jaguar Land Rover and our value to the UK economy".

JLR has three British manufacturing plants. Tata Motors said in October JLR was in talks with a Chinese automaker to establish a manufacturing and sales joint venture in China.

The British government, which hopes private-sector job creation will power economic recovery despite public-sector job cuts, said all the deals would safeguard 700 jobs in Britain.

Like many other countries, Britain is trying to boost exports to emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil.

Prime Minister David Cameron's efforts to double trade with China by 2015 received a boost in November when enginemaker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) won a $1.2 billion order during his first visit to China since taking office in May. (Additional reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by David Cowell) ($1 = 0.6433 pound)

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