It appears that MINI production is about to venture into China for the first time, if a report by Bloomberg is to be believed. The BMW Group is said to be hammering out a deal with Great Wall Motors to build cars from its upmarket compact brand for export, according to sources familiar to the plan.

The deal would be a first for Great Wall, the largest SUV producer in the Middle Kingdom, which has yet to have a foreign partner. Spokespeople from BMW and Great Wall declined to comment on the matter, with the latter saying that the company will issue a statement later.

Munich has already been building BMWs in China with Brilliance Auto since 2003. Sales of BMW and MINI models there rose 16% in the first eight months of the year to 383,976 units. The overall passenger car market in China grew 3.3% to 2.34 million units last month, according to data released yesterday.

The move is likely linked to a new directive by the Chinese government aimed at increasing the production of new energy vehicles, announced last month, with BMW saying that it was fully committed to promoting electrified vehicles in the country. For its part, MINI has confirmed that it will build its first commercially-available electric vehicle, based on the regular 3 Door hatch and set to enter production in 2019.

This wouldn’t be the first time BMW is exploring MINI production in Asia – the first-generation Countryman was assembled here in Malaysia, as well as in Chennai, India.