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Strategically Important Non-aligned Countries

Volume 732: debated on Tuesday 2 May 2023

10. What steps he is taking to increase diplomatic engagement with strategically important non-aligned countries. (904721)

In December I made a speech in which I committed to a long-term

“effort to revive old friendships and build new ones”,

reaching beyond our traditional alliances, to ensure that we have sustainable, engaged relationships with countries that will make the weather in the forthcoming decades. I have travelled to a number of countries that fall into that category, as have my ministerial colleagues and friends.

Does the Secretary of State agree that we should have strong international relations with countries such as Brazil, which has non-aligned observer status, but is a country with huge wealth in food, energy and precious minerals and is therefore strategically important for a global UK on an increasingly volatile planet?

I commend my hon. Friend on the work he has done in building not only trade links but a strong bilateral relationship between the UK and Brazil. I will be seeking to reinforce his efforts on my forthcoming trip to Brazil because, as he says, it is an important and influential country, which has huge natural resources and is the lungs of the world.

One of the fastest ways we could transform our influence with non-aligned countries is to step up and help to lead the debate about the availability of green and development finance. One thing the Foreign Secretary could do this year is to make the case that if we are to give our multilateral institutions a bigger task, we must give them a bigger balance sheet as well. We could be using the money we get back from the European Investment Bank, all €3.5 billion of it, to help to lead the argument for a bigger World Bank. Is that an argument that the Foreign Secretary is prepared to lead now?

We are, and my right hon. Friend the Development Minister is personally leading the conversation on behalf of the UK Government about international financial institutions’ being more active in that very field, to ensure that they look again at their risk appetite so that we can unlock the trillions of dollars of available finance to help countries to transition from hydrocarbon, high-emitting sources of energy to renewable sources. That is a conversation we have regularly, both bilaterally and multilaterally, and I am proud that the UK is one of the leading voices on that agenda.