May vows post-Brexit UK will be leading investor in Africa
CAPE TOWN-Agence France-Presse
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Aug. 28 pledged to prioritize investment in Africa as she started a three-nation visit to the continent to drum up new trade deals ahead of leaving the European Union.
Her tour of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya -- May’s first to Africa since becoming premier in 2016 -- is seen as an effort to reinforce Britain’s global ambitions after Brexit.
“By 2022, I want the U.K. to be the G-7’s number one investor in Africa, with Britain’s private sector companies taking the lead,” May told business leaders in Cape Town, South Africa.
The G-7 groups major industrialized nations but does not include China, which has become a big investor on the African continent.
“As prime minister of a trading nation whose success depends on global markets, I want to see strong African economies that British companies can do business with,” she said.
“I want to create a new partnership between the UK and our friends in Africa built around shared prosperity and shared security.”
May is facing pressure at home from so-called “Remainers” skeptical of her ability to forge trade deals once Britain severs ties with the EU, as well as from Brexiteers fearful she will not deliver a complete break.
“As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships,” she said in a statement as she arrived in South Africa.
Former foreign minister Boris Johnson, whose July departure from the cabinet brought May’s government to the brink, said in his resignation speech that May’s current Brexit policy would hamper London’s ability to strike independent trade deals.
But May said Britain was well placed and had many companies ready to invest in Africa.
She announced a new four-billion-pound ($5 billion/4.4 billion euro) investment program. There were no immediate details about the initiative.
May added that Britain would also host an African investment summit next year, and would open new diplomatic missions across the continent.