British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will use a keynote speech in the Chilean capital Santiago on Monday 22 May to set out the UK’s future relationship with Latin America.
The speech comes as British embassies across the continent prepare to celebrate 200 years of UK-Latin America relations.
At Santiago’s Gabriela Mistral Cultural Centre, Cleverly will speak of his pride in the role the UK played in supporting the struggle for Latin America’s independence 2 centuries ago – describing Britain as the region’s “oldest friend”.
The Foreign Secretary 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.
On the shared values between the UK and Latin America, Cleverly will say:
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. We know these are your values too.
Cleverly will highlight the UK-Latin America partnership on matters of global importance, including tackling climate change, upholding democracy and human rights and securing free and open supply chains of critical minerals.
On UK-Latin American relations in the 21st century, the Foreign Secretary will say:
We should be ambitious for our future relationship. 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. It will only evolve, survive and prosper with the support and whole-hearted engagement of this great region.
Cleverly will call for Latin American countries to be given a louder voice in multinational organizations like the UN, including a permanent Security Council seat for Brazil:
[Latin America’s] demographic and economic weight gives you a pivotal role in determining whether the international order will endure… But our world’s multilateral institutions need reform, in particular to give more voice and more influence to Latin America.
Latin America, home to 660 million people and with combined GDP of almost US$6 trillion, is an enormous potential market for the UK. Mexico, Chile and Peru are among the region’s members the UK will be joining in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trading bloc – boosting British jobs, growth and influence.
To set out the importance of engagement with Latin America, the Foreign Secretary will highlight trade and investment opportunities that exist following the UK’s accession to CPTPP:
The total value of imports and exports rose by a massive 45.4% last year to more than £40 billion. But with Latin America representing only 2.1% of UK imports and 2.6% of UK exports worldwide, I recognize that there is much more to do on trade and investment.
It comes during the first visit by a Foreign Secretary to South America since 2018 – helping meet a UK foreign policy objective to revive old friendships and build new ones beyond established alliances. As well as Chile and Colombia, Cleverly is also travelling to Brazil.
The address in Santiago builds on the Foreign Secretary’s commitment to deepening engagement with countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America made in his speech on 12 December 2022 – where he said the UK’s future global impact will depend on winning over a far broader array of global partners.
Referencing the leadership of revolutionary figures like Simon Bolivar, the Foreign Secretary will say the values that were evident in Latin America’s fight for independence 200 years ago can still be harnessed today:
Two hundred years ago, Simon Bolivar said that ‘the freedom of the New World is the hope of the universe’. Your love of freedom continues to inspire the world today. It’s why I’ve come from London to revive old friendships and build new ones. And to pledge our long-term commitment.
The Foreign Secretary’s speech will take place at 5pm BST on Monday 22 May. It be available to view online and can be live-streamed from www.24horas.cl (link will be made live on the day).
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