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Inward Investment

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 19th June 2012.

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Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 2:30 pm, 19th June 2012

What steps his Department is taking to encourage inward investment from developing economies through the diplomatic network.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are strengthening the UK’s diplomatic network to increase substantially our presence in emerging markets. This will transform relationships in the fastest growing cities and regions, and reinforce work on investment opportunities, which is obviously a key part of repositioning our economy and our drive for export-led growth.

Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

I welcome the Government’s commitment to the expansion of our commercial-diplomatic network, but given the pressure on budgets, including that of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, can my hon. Friend tell the House how these measures and the programme of opening new embassies is to be funded?

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are already in the business of opening new embassies. We have opened two this year in Africa—I opened one in Abidjan the other day—and we are opening embassies in Mogadishu, Monrovia, Antananarivo, in Madagascar, Bishkek, in Kyrgyzstan, and San Salvador. This will be paid for through a gradual reduction of our footprint in Iraq and Afghanistan and the closure of various subordinate posts in Europe.

Photo of Andrew Love Andrew Love Labour, Edmonton

The level of trade and investment involving the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—is a source of some disappointment to our British economy. What steps is the Minister taking to strengthen our role in those emerging markets, where there are real opportunities for growth?

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are working absolutely furiously to try to increase the amount of trade with those countries. UK Trade and Investment—indeed, the entire network—is working as hard as it can to increase trade. In fact, in all those countries our bilateral trade is on target to double over the comprehensive spending review period. Of course there is more work to do, but I would suggest that, through the efforts of Ministers, UKTI and our missions, we are making good progress.