Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire introduces a new set of Chevening Scholarships for Latin America.
The success of the Pacific Alliance forms an integral part of our re-engagement with Latin America.
In my view, it is the right organisation for the 21st century - the right model of free trade, market integration and prosperity - and it boosts four vibrant economies that are already running ahead in the region.
The scope and potential of the Pacific Alliance project is vast.
Its economies represent 40% of Latin American Gross Domestic Product; a market of 215 million people; and half of Latin American exports to the rest of the world.
And in the three years since the founding of the Pacific Alliance, progress has been swift - with achievements including the recent integration of the Mexican stock exchange into the Latin American Integrated Market – known as MILA; the 2013 agreement to abolish 92% of trade tariffs, with the remainder abolished by 2020; and the removal of visa regimes.
Impressive progress, I am sure you will agree.
Pacific Alliance matters to the UK
And with our objectives closely aligned, we can work together in areas of mutual interest. Let me give just three:
First, we do business together to the benefit of our respective economies – trade between the UK and the Pacific Alliance surpassed £7bn last year and is likely to continue to grow.
Second, we work together to tackle climate change - the UK welcomed the helpful Pacific Alliance declaration on climate change made at COP20 in Lima last year.
And third, we are now have a programme of activity and exchanges in the fields of innovation, competition and – of course – education.
For all these reasons, and more, the UK is delighted to be an observer to the Pacific Alliance.
And looking ahead, our status as an observer will allow us to continue to explore new ways to support the Alliance.
For example, the Lord Mayor is taking business delegations to Colombia, Peru and Mexico next month: another opportunity to discuss British expertise in areas of common interest - such as financial markets and capital market development.
A secondment programme between our respective governments, and academic and private sector organisations will benefit us all.
And finally – on a subject that I know will be of particular interest to all our Chevening scholars and alumni here tonight, I am proud that with the help of the Chancellor and partner organisations – some of whom are in the room – we have created the Pacific Alliance Chevening scholarships.
These scholarships, starting this September, will combine our prestigious Chevening scholarship brand with the goals and values the UK shares with the Pacific Alliance, promoting growth and a rules-based economic system.
An exciting programme of networking events, policy roundtables and visits will provide valuable opportunities to exchange ideas, expertise and knowledge – and create a cadre of exceptional Pacific Alliance Chevening scholars who can advance the work of the Alliance after their studies.
So in closing, I hope I have left you in no doubt about the importance the UK places on our relationship and cooperation with the Pacific Alliance – and of the reasons why I think we can look forward to a rewarding future.