Nick Clegg will be the most senior British government minister to visit Colombia since 1992.
Leading a high-level delegation, the Deputy Prime Minister will be accompanied by Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston, Mexico Trade Envoy Baroness Bonham-Carter and more than 40 UK business leaders representing a wide range of sectors including global big-hitters such as banking giants HSBC, engine manufacturers Rolls Royce, commercial banknote printer De La Rue, oil and energy firm Shell, and designer architects Zaha Hadid. He will also be joined by senior representatives from UK universities Dundee, Edinburgh and Warwick.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
The global influence of Colombia and Mexico, both politically and economically, is increasing at an incredible rate. It is by forging greater ties with countries like these that we can rebuild our economy; find new export markets for British businesses, identify new opportunities, and sign new contracts.
The UK took its eye off the Latin American ball, and as a result we’ve fallen behind many of our other European competitors. Mexico and Colombia are 2 economies where the British presence has been too small, too reticent and too modest for far too long. There is so much we can do to catch up, and we’re making progress.
Already we are major players as the second largest investor in Colombia and the fifth largest in Mexico. We’ve seen a 126% increase in the export relationship with Colombia between 2009-12, and a 9% increase in UK to Mexico exports in the last year alone.
Yet despite all that progress, the commercial and trading relationship between our nations is still a fraction of what it could be. That’s why I’m so pleased to spearhead on behalf of the British government, a major delegation – the first of its kind to Colombia – from the UK from a huge diversity of sectors. This is a real message of intent.
It’s been fashionable for a long time to talk about growth of major economies in Asia, but actually so much of new growth in the world economy will be in Latin America, in open, reforming economies such as Mexico and Colombia. Delegations and visits like this are important to the success of the relationship between Britain, Colombia and Mexico, and the long–term economic wellbeing to the UK for many years ahead.
Growing economic relationship
During his visit to Colombia the Deputy Prime Minister will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos to reinforce the increasingly strong political dialogue between the countries and discuss the growing economic relationship. In particular, there are growing science, innovation and education links between the UK and Colombia.
UK goods and services exports to Colombia increased by 126% between 2009 and 2012, one of the highest growth rates in the world. This has helped towards the 2015 bilateral trade and investment target of £1.75 billion which has now been met.
The Deputy Prime Minister will announce on his trip the new target of £4 billion of bilateral trade and investment by 2020.
In Mexico, the Deputy Prime Minister will meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto to reinforce bilateral relations built up from his previous visit in March 2011, and President Peña Nieto’s visit to the UK in June 2013. The legacy of this new era of UK-Mexico relations will bring the 2 societies even closer together with 2015 designated as the Year of the UK in Mexico and Year of Mexico in the UK.
Trade and investment links
The trade and investment links between the UK and Mexico are well established; the UK is Mexico’s 5th largest investor, and in the first 11 months of 2013, UK export of goods to Mexico increased by 9% compared to the same period last year.
The Deputy Prime Minister will be reiterating our commitment of reaching a bilateral trade target of £4.2 billion by the end of 2015, and announcing a new target to double the UK’s market share in Mexico to 1.5% by 2020.
Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston said:
More and more British companies are exporting to Colombia and Mexico. UK exports of goods to Mexico increased by over 60% since 2009 and the export of services to Colombia has almost tripled since 2009.
However, much more needs to be done to ensure UK companies can benefit from the huge opportunities these markets offer, particularly in the energy, infrastructure and education sectors. That is why we are taking one of the largest UK trade delegations so far to Mexico and Colombia.