Cleverly celebrates 200 years of UK-Latin America relations in Chile

Foreign Secretary is visiting Chile, Colombia and Brazil to boost the UK's international relationships

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. EPA
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British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will use a keynote speech in the Chilean capital Santiago on Monday to celebrate 200 years of UK-Latin America relations and set out plans for more partnerships.

At the city's Gabriela Mistral Cultural Centre, Mr Cleverly will speak of his pride in the role the UK played in supporting the struggle for Latin America’s independence two centuries ago, describing Britain as the region’s "oldest friend".

He will say the "tectonic plates of world politics are shifting once again" and will use his address to young leaders to highlight the values that unite Latin America and the UK.

“Our position is clear. Respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, self-determination and human rights must prevail, alongside democracy, the rule of law, liberty and freedom" Mr Cleverly will say, according to early released excerpts of his speech.

"We know these are your values too.”

He will highlight the UK-Latin America partnership on matters of global importance, including climate change, upholding democracy and human rights, and securing free and open supplies of critical minerals.

In his speech, Mr Cleverly will say that future UK-Latin American relations will be ambitious.

“Not just because of the historical bonds of friendship that have united us for more than 200 years, but because we treasure the same fundamental values that inspired the creation of this international order," he will say.

"It will only evolve, survive and prosper with the support and whole-hearted engagement of this great region.”

Latin America, home to 660 million people and with a combined GDP of almost $6 trillion, is an enormous potential market for the UK.

Mexico, Chile and Peru are among the region’s members that the UK will join in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trading bloc.

Britain's membership is aimed at boosting jobs, growth and influence.

To set out the importance of engagement with Latin America, Mr Cleverly will highlight trade and investment opportunities that exist after the UK’s accession to the pact.

“The total value of imports and exports rose by a massive 45.4 per cent last year to more than £40 billion," he will say.

"But with Latin America representing only 2 per cent of UK imports and 2.5 per cent of UK exports worldwide, I recognise that there is much more to do on trade and investment.”

Mr Cleverly's trip marks the first visit by a British foreign secretary to South America since 2018.

It is part of a UK foreign policy objective to revive old friendships and build new ones beyond established alliances.

After Chile and Colombia, Mr Cleverly will travel to Brazil.

Updated: May 21, 2023, 11:01 PM