Good morning Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and thank you, Ambassador Amaral for hosting this event. I am grateful to the Lula Institute, and to our hosts FAAP.
It is a pleasure to be in your dynamic, vibrant city, the sixth largest in the world, and a symbol of all that Brazil has achieved in recent decades.
I am here in Brazil for our annual foreign policy Strategic Dialogue with your government, which took place yesterday. Over the last four years there has been a significant strengthening of our bilateral relationship. There has been a huge increase in the number of visits to Brazil by British Ministers; we’ve opened a new British consulate in Recife; we now have more diplomats at our missions here in São Paulo and in Rio, and we’ve signed agreements which are bringing thousands of Brazilian students to the UK through the Science without Borders programme. But there is immense scope for us to do more together and achieve more together by working side-by-side in foreign policy, perhaps nowhere more so than in Africa. So I am very pleased to be part of this panel event, since exchanging ideas in this way is an important stepping stone to future cooperation.
Africa is a region still affected by conflict. We are all conscious I am sure of the terrible situations in South Sudan and Central African Republic. The UK has committed more than £70 million for humanitarian activities in South Sudan and we are supporting efforts to find a political solution. We have also provided £15 million in humanitarian aid to Central African Republic and £2 million to the African Union peace-keeping mission and we supported the deployment of an EU force to assist the African Union and French troops already on the ground.
In both these countries we see the way conflict and instability destroy livelihoods and undermine sustainable development. The international community must be able to act to protect populations and avert disaster and we hope that the African Union will continue to strengthen its ability to respond in crisis situations like these. I hope Brazil can join us in supporting them, because your experience in Haiti and Lebanon gives you deep peace-keeping expertise, reflected in the choice of a Brazilian General to lead UN Peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
My country is playing a leading role in reducing piracy of the Horn of Africa by contributing vessels to three international naval missions; we are working to counter terrorism from North Africa and the Sahel through Nigeria to Kenya and Somalia; we have held two major conferences in London in the last three years bringing together the Somali government and 50 other nations and organisations, helping that country to turn itself around; and we are one of the very biggest contributors in the whole world of development assistance to African nations.
But to look at Africa solely through the lens of conflict is misleading. My argument today is that there are exciting opportunities for Britain and Brazil to work in partnership with African countries to promote economic growth, good governance and stability - drawing on our own expertise, history, knowledge and historic ties with different parts of Africa - and building on the development partnerships that we have already established.
Both of our countries’ relationships with Africa are rooted in history, though they are not defined by it.
Eighteen African countries, including Mozambique, are members of the Commonwealth, a vibrant, free association of countries from every continent working together for our shared values and shared prosperity. British Africans make an invaluable contribution to many areas of our national life, while many leading government figures in Africa studied at world class institutions in the UK.
Brazil’s ties with Africa reflect your own long historical and cultural links. I know that Brazilians of African heritage and African culture play a vital role in your society, that your linguistic ties are a special bond with a number of countries in Africa, and that our other speakers today will touch on Brazil’s many contributions to prosperity, security and development across the continent, including your peacekeeping contribution. Your remarkable record of poverty reduction, growth and development of thriving democracy makes you an extremely strong partner for African countries set on the same path.
Both our countries are now building on those historical connections to strengthen our relationships with African countries for the future.
Since 2010 the UK has opened new Embassies in Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Liberia, South Sudan and Somalia. I know that you have also been expanding your presence in Africa and both our countries have extensive and well respected development programmes. In fact, we are working together in 23 African countries helping farmers boost productivity and ensuring children get the school meals they need to succeed.
But the similarities do not end there because both our countries are also building our economic ties with Africa. Brazil’s annual trade with Africa rocketed from $4 billion to $27 billion between 2002 and 2012 and I look forward to hearing Vitor Hallack’s views on the trading relationship from the business perspective.
In that same ten year period, UK exports to Nigeria and Ethiopia doubled, our exports to Tanzania trebled and exports to Ghana increased almost four-fold.
Both our countries know we can do even better, because Africa is a continent of huge economic potential. In 2012, 5 African nations saw growth rates higher than China’s, and 36 grew faster than India.
Economic growth could transform countries in Africa as it has transformed Brazil. The vast majority of the 700 million people who escaped poverty in the last two decades did so thanks to growing economies that gave them jobs and higher incomes, and that gave their governments tax receipts to fund better health, education and infrastructure.
So growth will benefit the citizens of African countries, and it will help Brazil, the UK and the global economy too.
For all these reasons, the UK is putting economic cooperation and development at the heart of our relationships in Africa.
Our Department for International Development is doing so particularly successfully by working with Brazil across Africa. Through joint projects together we are strengthening food security, increasing agricultural productivity, supporting incomes and improving resource management. In many cases, applying to Africa techniques approaches developed and successfully implemented in Brazil, such as the Favela policing project we support in Nairobi and Cape Town, which uses social media to improve citizen security.
The UK’s Department for International Development is also working in partnership with African countries to make them more attractive destinations for much needed investment, to improve regulation, build infrastructure and develop capital markets. This will help create opportunities for home grown entrepreneurs and for British and Brazilian businesses alike, all to the benefit of the African countries concerned.
UK businesses can play a valuable role in supporting economic development in African countries not only because they bring world class skills, services, and technologies but also because British companies recognise the importance of local job creation, training, and corporate responsibility. In this they are supported by the UK government: we were the first in the world to launch a national business and human rights action plan and we are helping British companies invest in their staff worldwide.
We have fourteen UK Trade and Investment offices across Africa, dedicated to helping British companies to forge links with African countries, and all our Embassies have been tasked with finding opportunities for British businesses to invest and export.
In order to strengthen our effort across government, we recently established High Level Prosperity Partnerships with Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania. British Ministers will work with their counterparts in these five countries to remove barriers to trade, share expertise and identify business opportunities.
The UK will also continue to argue strongly throughout Africa for good governance, human rights and the rule of law because these are the common aspirations of people everywhere, and because corruption, oppression and instability hold back economic development, as we have seen all too clearly in Zimbabwe.
I hope Brazil can work with us to ensure that the world agrees a strong set of new global development goals that reflect the importance of the rule of law, stability and open and accountable government, because these are all essential conditions for long-term economic success.
We also recognise the importance of African countries and the African Union on the world stage. We are working closely with Nigeria, Chad and Rwanda on the Security Council and we support a permanent African presence on that body; 31 African countries have endorsed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which I launched last year, and we are working with many of them and with the African Union on practical measures to tackle warzone rape; and we are building strong bilateral partnerships to work together on issues from free trade to piracy to climate change.
So, the United Kingdom’s partnerships with African countries, like Brazil’s, are wide-ranging, dynamic and full of potential. I believe that our two countries should do more together to harness those strong ties to support economic development, good governance and stability, in a spirit of respect and cooperation, so that in the future African lion economies might rival Asia’s tigers, with all that that means for their peoples and for the security and prosperity of the world.
And in that spirit I look forward to hearing the views of our other panellists and to discussing these issues with you and the audience here today, and to even stronger cooperation between our countries in Africa in the years to come.