Lord Paul Boateng, a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, said Brexit does not mean that the British government will turn its back on Africa.
Boateng made the remarks on Monday at the opening of the Africa Trade Forum jointly hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU) from Nov. 28 to 30 at the AU Headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
Boateng said that Brexit presents Africa and the UK with an opportunity to “put development at the heart of our trading relationship with Africa,” according to an ECA statement on Tuesday.
“The UK recognizes that and we will seek every opportunity to minimize the disruption in our trading relationship and take every opportunity to seize this chance to re-fashion the relationship between the UK and Africa in terms of trade so intra-African trade becomes an opportunity which we can seize together,” he said.
African Ministers of Trade, Finance and Transportation as well as senior government officials, heads of Regional Economic Communities (RECs), African CEOs and executives, representatives of international development agencies, civil society and others are participating the three-day Forum.
Contributing to debate on Africa-EU economic and trade cooperation and Brexit implications for Africa, Boateng assured participants that trade relations between the UK and Africa would not be affected following Brexit.
“There is clearly a need in the aftermath of Brexit for there to be a degree of reassurance given to Africa that Brexit doesn’t mean that the United Kingdom is going to turn its back on Africa, and I’m able to assure you that right across the political divide in the UK, in both Houses, Africa and the UK’s historic link with Africa remains central to our thinking,” he said.
“There is a hazard always when you think about the scale of the task that lies ahead in terms of mapping out the future of the trading relationship between the UK and Africa, but I think I can give the absolute assurance that we see this in the UK as an opportunity to be seized.”