“The problems in Europe remind us why Britain needs to expand our links with the faster growing parts of the world,” Osborne told a packed House of Commons.
“We’ve made major progress this Parliament. I can report that the trade deficit figures published last week are the best for 15 years.
“And we will do even more – so today I am again increasing UKTI’s resources to double the support for British exporters to China.”
The UKTI confirmed it would be getting £7.5M in 2015-2016 to that end. “This investment in UKTI in China will enable a step change in the support we can offer to UK firms looking to operate in China, and those already there,” it said in a statement.
“We expect this investment to help contribute towards British firms securing the projected £1.3bn of export opportunities that we have identified next year.”
Trade minister Lord Livingston said: “These initiatives will give UK businesses access to on-the-ground expertise in China and offer greater support in the UK to access the biggest trade opportunities in high-growth markets.
“We are focussing on key sectors within China providing leadership to best support the 2020 Export Drive and increase UK businesses’ access to trade opportunities around the world.”
It was good news for farmers, as Osborne announced more support for them. “The fall in food prices is good for families; but it reminds us of the challenge our farmers face from volatile markets,” he said.
“The National Farmers Union has long argued they should be allowed to average their incomes for tax purposes over five years; I agree and in this Budget we will make that change.”
2015 Budget measures
- £7.5M to support UK exports to China
- Allow farmers to average income over five years to tax purposes
- Fuel duty increases scheduled for September cancelled
- Beer duty cut by 1p per pint, cider and whisky duty cut by 2%
- Freeze on wine duty
- National minimum wage to rise to £6.70 an hour from the autumn
- Corporation tax cut to 20%
- National Insurance payments scrapped for those aged under 21 from April and for those employing young apprentices from April 2016
- Annual tax returns to be scrapped from next year
- Improved South West rail links
- Pledge to raise £3.1bn by cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion