UK minister Kemi Badenoch heads to Gulf for talks on trade deal

Trade Secretary to visit UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar

Kemi Badenoch said Gulf countries were 'an enormous opportunity' for British businesses. PA
Powered by automated translation

The UK's Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch will visit the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week for talks on a trade deal between Britain and the Gulf.

Ms Badenoch will meet business leaders, ministers and the new head of the Gulf Co-operation Council on a five-day trip to the region.

Britain and the six-member GCC have held three rounds of talks on a post-Brexit trade deal, with a fourth expected to be hosted by the UK later this year.

“I know my counterparts are as ambitious for this deal as I am, and I’m ready to match their ambition,” Ms Badenoch said.

“We already have a strong trade and investment relationship with the Gulf nations, but I’m determined to strengthen this even further.

“The GCC represents an enormous opportunity for UK firms, whether it’s selling brilliant British food and drink products into new markets or offering new consumers for our flourishing digital trade and renewable energy sectors.

The UK government says a deal with the GCC could increase trade by 16 per cent or more.

It believes demand for British exports to the region could rise to almost £1 trillion ($1.24 trillion) by 2035.

Ms Badenoch will also hold talks on inward investment to the UK.

She is expected to speak at the Qatar Economic Forum on Tuesday as part of a programme of business engagements.

A meeting is planned with GCC Secretary General Jasem Al Budaiwi, who recently moved to the post from Kuwait's embassy to the US.

The UK and UAE's foreign ministers held a first “strategic dialogue” last week which they hailed as an “important moment” in bilateral relations.

In a joint statement they affirmed their support for “expanding and deepening trade and investment relations”.

They said the two countries would discuss “annexes or side agreements” to a UK-Gulf trade deal to cover UK-UAE specific issues.

Updated: May 22, 2023, 8:54 AM