The prime minister Theresa May arrived in Africa yesterday where she announced plans to boost investment in the continent, pledging a “fundamental shift” in aid and setting a course for Britain in a post-Brexit world.
In the first trade pacts confirmed for after Brexit, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland will continue the existing terms of the European Partnership Agreement after the UK leaves the bloc.
In a speech in Cape Town, Mrs May pledged £4bn in support for African economies, to create jobs for young people; which would represent a major expansion of Britain’s diplomatic presence in Africa. She said the foreign aid budget would be used ‘unashamedly’ to drive closer trade ties.
The prime minister said that by 2022 the UK should have overhauled the US to become the biggest investor in Africa.
The statement of intent is the most advanced yet from around 40 existing EU trade agreements that the UK hopes to continue.
In 2015, total trade (imports and exports combined) between Africa and the UK amounted to $36bn (£28bn). In the same year, trade between China and Africa totalled $188bn, and between the US and Africa is amounted to $53bn; which indicates that there is a long way to go but this is a very strong start.
To sweeten her offer, the prime minister is bringing along a delegation of 29 business leaders to promote “the breadth and depth of British expertise in technology, infrastructure, and financial and professional services,” Downing Street has said.
This is a strong step in the right direction and a landmark moment as we move to becoming a Global Britain. This is one of the first signals that the UK is willing to form relationships with countries beyond the EU.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, an avid Brexiteer, has been pushing for aid money to be used more creatively to help further the aims for a post-Brexit Britain.
The new approach could mean pumping cash into technologies or growing industries and encouraging innovation where Britain could benefit.
The three day visit to Africa which includes, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya is one of the most positive indications that Britain will continue to prosper when it leaves the European Union.