Minister to visit region devastated by May's earthquake to suggest how UK firms can help reconstruction

Business minister John Hutton is to visit the area of China devastated by May’s earthquake this week in a bid to promote British engineering expertise.

John Hutton

Government agency UK Trade & Investment said Hutton, secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, would go to Sichuan to see what British companies could do to help the reconstruction effort.

Millions of buildings, including 6.5 million houses and 7000 schools, were destroyed by the earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and killed at least 70,000 people.

The Chinese government has committed to rebuilding the damaged towns and cities within three years and many UK firms see this as an opportunity to establish themselves in the region.

During his visit, Hutton is also set to meet his department’s Chinese counterpart, the Joint Economic Trade Committee, in Beijing to discuss trade. The two countries have a trade target of $60bn by 2010.

The minister is also expected to launch a report on business opportunities across the country, the Chinese Regional Business Consensus, on Friday.