British consumers – including me – are partial to some Mozambican cashews, Namibian beef or South African apples.
That’s just part of the reason why the UK government has made it a priority to ensure continuity in trade with Southern Africa as the UK leaves the EU.
I’m pleased to say that it’s clearly a priority shared by the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Mozambique governments too. I was delighted to join UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the region this week and have a chance to meet with Minister Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry in Botswana – importantly, representing all six SACU and Mozambique trade ministers.
We agreed that as the UK leaves the European Union it is fundamental that we maintain, and then build on, the strong foundation of our economic relationship and boost our mutual prosperity.
That is why, together, Minister Kenewendo and I signed a joint statement confirming that we will have a roll-over trade agreement ready soon as the EU deal no longer applies to the UK.
Building on work started a year ago, our teams are making good progress in concluding a UK-SACU and Mozambique deal which will seek to maintain the benefits of the existing EU Economic Partnership Agreement for businesses and consumers on both sides.
Trade in goods and services between the UK and Namibia is already worth nearly £70 million a year. This is another reason we are prioritising the continuity in our trade – because that’s income going to Namibian farmers, producers, and exporters, boosting the Namibian economy. It’s also a huge boost for British producers, exporters, and our economy. When we work together as partners to deepen our relationship, everyone should win.
The partnership between the UK and African countries should be just that – a partnership. One built on close cooperation and based on shared prosperity and shared security.
We want to see strong African economies that British firms can trade with freely and fairly – creating new customers and investment opportunities for us all. Strong African economies do not just benefit African people, they benefit British people too.
Our focus is on attracting long-term investment to Africa with UK companies helping create jobs, contributing to local economies and building capability for the future, while at the same time making sure that Africa’s young people are ready to take advantage of those new opportunities.
The huge potential offered by modern trading partnerships across Africa and with British businesses means together we can create the prosperity that delivers opportunities for everyone.
That’s why as well as rolling over this trade deal, the UK government has made an extra £5.5 billion in support from UK export finance available to 8 markets across Africa, supporting UK-Africa trade.
And we are launching a new prosperity fund programme of up to £8 million to increase trade both within Southern Africa and with the UK, by helping to tackle barriers to trade. The programme will seek to expand import and export opportunities for African and UK businesses.
It is only by visiting the region and seeing the issues first hand that it has been possible to truly understand the importance of all this work on sustaining and increasing trade between our countries and I have very much enjoyed my time here.
More broadly, Britain will remain a steadfast partner for Africa’s peace, security and prosperity.
And last week’s visit to three countries across Africa showed the UK’s commitment to strengthening our relationships across the continent to boost our mutual prosperity.
As Prime Minister May said in Cape Town, we want long-term partnerships which support African countries’ aspirations for trade, investment, jobs and growth while creating new trading relationships for the UK. It’s a win-win.
* George Hollingbery is UK’s International Trade Minister. He made these remarks on occasion of Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
2018-09-05 09:21:09 20 days ago