Minister Huge Swire said:
I am pleased to announce to the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office intends to open a new British Consulate-General in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, by the end of September 2015.
Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, is the third largest city in Brazil. Both the city and the state are politically important. Furthermore, Minas Gerais has a GDP of more than £150 billion, 10% of Brazil’s total, and boasts strong mining and agriculture sectors, a large automotive industry, and an expanding, high-tech industrial base.
Belo Horizonte will also serve as the location for Team GB and Paralympics GB’s pre-Games training camps from July to September 2016, and will play host to multiple test camps, to check the training facilities, over the course of 2015 and 2016. The British Olympic Association and British Paralympics Association’s decision to host the training camps in Belo Horizonte is likely to open up further opportunities within Minas Gerais for the UK.
Opening a Consulate-General in the city of Recife in north east Brazil in 2011 has shown us just how valuable having a presence in a State capital can be. Our Consulate-General in Recife has allowed us to provide direct support to British businesses in accessing commercial opportunities in the State, whilst also enabling us to build stronger political links at a local level, of particular importance in a country the size of Brazil, where a considerable amount of decision-making power lies with the States themselves. Given the scale of opportunities in Belo Horizonte, and the added dimension of the British Olympic Association and British Paralympics Association’s decision to host their training camps there, the Government believes that we should open a new British Consulate-General in Belo Horizonte for an initial period of two years. A resident Consul will be appointed, and our Consul-General to Rio de Janeiro will concurrently assume the title of Consul-General to Belo Horizonte.
The rising economic and global importance of Latin America and Brazil is clear; our overseas network in the region plays an important role in strengthening our political, economic and commercial ties. The Government launched its Canning Agenda in 2010; a long-term strategy aimed at revitalising relations with Latin America. Whilst we have made good progress, we need to look for innovative ways by which we can fully realise the potential of closer relationships in the region. The opening of a new Consulate-General in Belo Horizonte, within existing resource constraints, is an important part of that ongoing work.