Prime Minister Zhu Rongji is likely to make the long-awaited announcement on the first operating licence for a British insurance company when he visits London next week. Royal Sun Alliance, Prudential, Commercial Union, General Accident and Eagle Star have been competing fiercely for the licence privilege. Beijing has promised to award the next two licences to a British and an Australian company. Mr Zhu is due to arrive in Britain on Tuesday on his first foreign visit since becoming Prime Minister last week. Diplomats said he would meet the Queen, hold talks with his British counterpart Tony Blair and make an important speech, probably to a business audience at the Guildhall. He is also likely to give a news conference. Announcements of new British investment projects in the mainland, worth more than US$100 million, are likely during Mr Zhu's visit. On April 2, Mr Zhu will attend the first China-European Union summit, where his hosts will be European Union president Jacques Santer and Mr Blair, whose government holds the EU chair for the first half of this year. On April 3 and 4, in London, Mr Zhu will attend the second Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) and then visit France from April 5 to 7 when he will meet President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and business leaders. Mr Zhu will be accompanied on his trip by two members of his new Cabinet, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation Minister Shi Guangsheng. The visit gives Mr Zhu an excellent window of opportunity to explain the goals of his new administration to a wide audience of European and Asian political and business leaders and to seek their involvement, in the form of aid, loans and investment.