February 3, 2014 12:03 am

Clegg sets off to boost UK investment in Mexico and Colombia

Deputy PM and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg©Charlie Bibby

Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister

An attempt to build a stronger British investment presence in Mexico and Colombia will get under way on Monday when more than 40 business leaders accompany Nick Clegg on a trade visit to the two countries.

Before setting off, the deputy prime minister said that both politically and economically, the global influence of Colombia and Mexico was increasing at an “incredible” rate.

Yet the UK had taken “its eye off the Latin American ball” and, as a result, had fallen behind many European countries.

“Mexico and Colombia are two economies where the British presence has been too small, too reticent and too modest for far too long,” he said.

UK goods and services exports to Colombia increased by 126 per cent between 2009 and 2012, and there had been a 9 per cent increase in UK-to-Mexico exports in the past year, he said. “Yet despite all that progress, the commercial and trading relationship between our nations is still a fraction of what it could be.”

Hailing the visit as the first time a large UK trade and investment delegation had travelled to Colombia, he described it as “a real message of intent”.

“It’s been fashionable for a long time to talk about growth of major economies in Asia, but actually so much of new growth in the world economy will be in Latin America – in open, reforming economies such as Mexico and Colombia,” he added.

During his visit to Colombia, he will meet President Juan Manuel Santos, focusing in particular on growing links in science, innovation and education.

In Mexico, Mr Clegg will meet President Enrique Peña Nieto, and will announce a new target to double Britain’s market share in Mexico to 1.5 per cent by 2020, said the Cabinet Office.

Lord Livingston, trade and investment minister, who will join Mr Clegg on the trip, said: “Much more needs to be done to ensure UK companies can benefit from the huge opportunities these markets offer, particularly in the energy, infrastructure and education sectors.”

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