Alderman Lord Mountevans shares his thoughts on his upcoming visit to Mauritius
As the ambassador for the UK’s financial services sector I’m always looking to strengthen the world’s economic and commercial ties. This is why you’ll find me in Mauritius this week.
It’s the Lord Mayor’s job to represent the City of London – the UK’s financial district – for a term of one year. With time so limited, I have to choose the countries I visit extremely carefully, picking out the ones with the best combination of potential and ambition. This year I am honoured to be the first Lord Mayor to visit Mauritius. A quick observation shows that our two countries have a lot in common. We both act as gateways for trade. For Mauritius that market is Africa and for the UK, this is Europe. Both our countries have relatively developed financial industries, similar banking, legal and insurance frameworks, and a strong reputation in the services sector. And since we are both island nations, we each have long and proud maritime histories, as I discussed with Mauritius’ Financial Services Minister when he visited London earlier this month.
In my meetings with the Prime Minister, government ministers and senior business leaders I want to showcase what the City of London and the wider UK can offer to Mauritius in the years to come. We have world class firms in all areas of the financial and professional services sectors – investment banks, asset and fund management, legal services, accountancy and insurance companies to name but a few. Building stronger links between these firms and those found in Mauritius will complement our respective economies.
One area in particular that I am keen to discuss during my meetings is the maritime industry and how our two countries can work together in this sector. Having just chaired a UK government commissioned report into how we can better support the sector’s growth, I am more than happy to offer my advice and support for Mauritius with their own ambitious maritime plans. It is why I am particularly looking forward to meeting the Chairman of the Mauritius Port Authority, getting an update on the Port Master Plan and seeing the port itself. The UK’s maritime sector is worth £11 billion. With over 85% of world trade moving by sea there is lots of potential to drive trade and create jobs. I am certain that partnership and closer-working will benefit both our countries.
We stand in a good position to help Mauritius develop its Ocean Terminal through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model of funding. As some of our biggest infrastructure projects have shown, including the 73 mile London-wide Crossrail project and the London Olympics in 2012, which were delivered on time and under budget, we are world leaders when it comes to PPP.
I also want to help Mauritius become a beacon for quality for financial training in Africa. Education, training and qualifications (ETQs) are today’s real passports to global growth, both on a personal and sectoral level. They can help upskill the workforce in Mauritius, rapidly progressing the financial and professional services industry by equipping the economy with a pool of talented, qualified and knowledgeable employees. Achievements like the development and deepening of capital markets, for example, are extremely difficult without a relatively large pool of qualified employees.
This is why I am delighted to be bringing representatives from some of the UK’s excellent ETQ providers: Fitch Learning, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and IFS University College. I am also thrilled to be launching the new Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) National Advisory Committee this week. CISI are helping drive up standards within financial services in Mauritius and it is important that there are enough people qualified to provide sound advice.
If there are two messages that I want to hammer home then they will be this: Firstly, that the UK is the natural trading partner for Mauritius. Secondly, it is that we stand ready to support Mauritius in developing some of key areas of their economy. We already have a strong, sustainable economic partnership but I will be doing all I can to strengthen that even further during my visit.