Keynote address by the Lord Mayor of London at the LATAM Investment Forum 2013

Latin America Investment Forum
Old Library, Guildhall Thursday 14th March 2013
The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of London
Alderman Roger Gifford

Your Excellencies, My Lords, Secretary of State, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you, Johanna for your kind introduction, and welcome, all, to Guildhall. Last night, many of us enjoyed an excellent reception at the Brazilian Embassy, hosted by Ambassador Roberto Jaguaribe – a great friend of the City. That event was a great prelude for today – the third LATIA conference uniting Government and Industry, from the UK and Latin America….and the second held here in Guildhall.

We in the City are honoured to host you here – and to build on a close, productive relationship with all 19 countries represented in this room, and strengthening our bonds in business. We want to work in partnership to realize our shared objectives – and create prosperity and growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

Every year, the Lord Mayor and a delegation of senior British business leaders, visits the countries which are experiencing sustained growth and development, and which pose new opportunities for global business. Latin America is one of the most significant emerging markets, and one of the key areas of focus for the City of London.

In recent years, my colleagues and I have spent a great deal of time with Heads of Government and Business in Latin America, as well as here in the UK.

1.[PERU] Last April, we hosted the InPeru Conference here in Guildhall, together with the Finance Minister of Peru. It was an extremely useful, high-calibre event, which I look forward to hosting again this Spring – prior to visiting Peru this July. The UK is the second largest investor in Peru after Spain – investment that has increased by over 180% in the last decade.

2.[BRAZIL] My immediate predecessor – Sir David Wootton – hosted the Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil at Mansion House, prior to his visit to Brazil in October….focussing on the contribution the UK can, and is, making to infrastructure development for the World Cup in 2014 and the Rio games in 2016. We welcomed the Governor of Sao Paulo to Mansion House in January, and discussed the High Value Opportunities for UK companies. And my successor’s programme of visits to Brazilian cities is already planned.

3.[CHILE] Sir David Wootton also hosted last year’s Chile Day at Mansion House – which was such a success, it ran for 3 days! Chile’s charismatic Finance Minister, Felipe Larrain, has asked for a similar event at Mansion House later this year – and we certainly hope it proves possible. There are many excellent prospects for partnership in mining and energy, in asset management – especially by pension fund managers – and in legal services. And I look forward to identifying and realizing these opportunities in Chile later this year.

4.[MEXICO] In October, we and the British Ambassador, hosted the President Elect of Mexico at Mansion House……at the same time that the former Lord Mayor, Sir David, hosted a Dinner at our Ambassador’s Residence in Mexico City, for the President Elect’s Transition Team!

5.[COLOMBIA] And just last month, I attended a first-rate ‘Colombia trade and industry’ event hosted by Lord Green – exploring how UK companies can help deliver Colombia’s ambitious infrastructure plan – roads, railways, airports and ports. Colombia’s PPP law is modelled on UK experience, and we look forward to sharing our commercial expertise to realize urban development programmes. Colombia’s President spent 10 years as Colombia’s representative for the International Coffee Organization in London – and we in the City appreciate his frequent words of welcome and great support for UK business.

For all the countries I have mentioned, and for others, the UK offers unique commercial expertise, and access to global markets. The City of London is the world’s pre-eminent financial centre – ranked first in the global financial centres index. Way ahead of New York! The City has a truly global reach and attractiveness – we are home to over 250 foreign banks – more than any other country – and there are around 1,400 foreign-owned companies operating in the UK licensed by the Financial Services Authority. We continue to see around a fifth of world cross border bank lending in the UK – and we are the largest exporter of financial services in the world, more than double than that of our nearest competitors.

My job is to promote the quality, range and depth of the City’s services – services central to our domestic economy, and central to the global economy. We encourage Latin American firms to come to London to raise capital, manage risk through our insurance markets, and access the cluster of financial and associated business services.

We recognize that this is an exciting, transitional moment for Latin America, which is making enormous progress in creating a more ‘business-friendly’ environment and experiencing significant levels of growth. Rapid and sustained growth is inspiring confidence for investors, and creating resilient economies across the region.
There is also, simultaneously, huge demand for UK expertise in engineering, design, PPP, and project & finance management – for expertise in technology, innovation, creative industries, education and manufacturing.
We, British business, have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build Britain’s engagement in the region. It’s a region which is ripe for growth and development, and affords fertile ground for UK companies to thrive. So I welcome UK firms to join the business mission to Chile, Peru, Colombia, Panama, and Mexico in July this year – as these visits give delegates access at the highest levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen – we in the City celebrate our political and economic friendship with Latin America. We want to strengthen and deepen our commercial partnership – for the benefit of all participant Nations. Today’s event – attended by policy makers and industry experts from the UK and Latin America – will, I am sure, identify many ways of developing and nurturing our partnership in the years to come. I wish you all a very productive and enjoyable day.

William Hague, the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said on his appointment in 2010: “We will halt the decline in Britain’s diplomatic presence in Latin America. Britain’s retreat from the region is over, and it is now time for an advance to begin. We will seek intensified and equal partnerships with countries in Latin America and we will give much increased Ministerial attention to them.”

On that note, it gives me great pleasure to hand over to the Secretary of State – committed to steering our relationship from strength to strength.
Secretary of State….