Keith Allan: “We may have our disagreements but I believe there is strong mutual respect”

Avec le soutien de
Keith Allan, British high commissioner to Mauritius.

Keith Allan, British high commissioner to Mauritius.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited heads of state/government from 21 African countries including Mauritius to attend the UK Africa Investment Summit. What exactly is the purpose of the summit?
The UK Africa Investment Summit will bring together UK and African business leaders, heads of government, international institutions and young entrepreneurs. It will mobilise new and substantial investment to create jobs and boost mutual prosperity and create new lasting partnerships that will deliver more investment and jobs. This will benefit people and businesses in Africa and the UK. We are very pleased that the prime minister of Mauritius will attend.  

Are more investments going to be geared towards Africa?
Yes, we want a closer trading partnership with African nations. Africa is expected to be home to eight of the 15 fastest growing economies in the world this year. By 2050, over two billion people will live in Africa and one in four global consumers will be African. But African countries receive less than 4% of foreign direct investment and around 20 million jobs a year must be created to keep pace with population growth. We have world-leading expertise on tech and innovation, the City of London is the global financial gateway for investment and we are committed to green growth. On the latter, the UK will ensure investment is green, sustainable and transformative by using innovation and technology to provide solutions to our shared challenges. The UK is listening when African nations say they want mutually beneficial partnerships that move beyond aid and attract quality investment to drive growth and create jobs. 
 
Is the timing a coincidence or is it the beginning of a post-Brexit trade era given Brexit on 31 January? 
The summit was planned before we knew the timing of Brexit. But Prime Minister Johnson has made it clear that as the UK strengthens its place in the world post-Brexit, we want to be the investment partner of choice for African nations.    

Is Brexit likely to affect African countries?
We have been working closely with Mauritius and other members of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) grouping to ensure that trade between the UK and the ESA group would continue with a smooth transition after Brexit. This is important and will give confidence to business. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the government of Mauritius for their proactive leadership in helping to ensure that post-Brexit arrangements are in place. The UK/Mauritius trade relationship is strong. The UK remains by far the largest trading partner for Mauritius when considering goods and services. Bilateral trade was worth over £1.1 billion in 2018.
   
How do you think the Boris Johnson/Pravind Jugnauth meeting is likely to go considering all the bad blood between the two countries regarding the Chagos archipelago?
Bad blood is strong language that does not describe our relationship. Yes, we have disagreements but our countries also have a great deal in common and work closely together in many areas, including trade and investment, education, security and climate change. On the latter, the UK will host the UN climate change negotiations, COP26, later this year in Glasgow. The UK and Mauritius are of course members of the Commonwealth and are currently working together on protecting our oceans and enhancing cyber security throughout the Commonwealth. Again, we may have our disagreements but I believe there is strong mutual respect and a desire from both countries to do more together. This is why we are pleased that Prime Minister Jugnauth will attend the summit. 

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