Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD), said Britain has an opportunity if the Prime Minister used the country's liberation from the European Union to strike up good relationships with other nations.
Mr Kituyi, who was Kenya's Minister of Trade and Industry from 2002 to 2007, said: “If Britain is saying ‘we are reducing the hold of Brussels for us to engage the world’ they have an opportunity.
“The testing ground is, for example, African countries, if Britain can offer a better deal than the economic partnership agreements that Brussels has been offering.”
The UNCTAD boss said African nations were prepared to back Brexit if it meant greater access to the UK market.
GETTY • UNCTAD
Mukhisa Kituyi said Brexit could be an opportunity for the UK to reach out to African countries
He said: “It’s an opportunity if Britain can say to our commonwealth cousins beyond the bonds of culture, nostalgia, and sport, we now want to offer you greater market access into our markets.
“To build your capacity to trade with the rest of the world, to encourage investment into your territories. If that is the message coming out of London, we’ll stand by and encourage.”
Mr Kituyi’s suggestion African nations would welcome a trade deal with post-Brexit Britain comes as a new report by the Commonwealth titled, "Brexit: Opportunities for India", claims the UK will be able to increase its exports to India by more than £2billion per year, reaching a staggering £6.3billion.
The report’s author, Rashmi Banga, suggests the UK will be able to get its free trade agreement (FTA) with India up and running before the EU does, giving Britain a further edge.
We’ll stand by and encourage
She wrote: “This proposed India–UK FTA may be easier to negotiate than the India-EU FTA, as some of the sticking points in an India-EU FTA may be easier to resolve.”
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The report said: "Given the slow pace of negotiations over [a trade deal] with the EU, Brexit provides a fresh opportunity to India to strengthen its economic relationship with the UK through an India–UK trade and investment agreement."
Chancellor Philip Hammond last week started a major trade mission this week as he traveled to India to secure a business boost for Britain post-Brexit.
Mr Hammond said: "As we prepare to leave the European Union, it is more important than ever that we strengthen our relationship with India, one of the world's leading economies and one of our oldest friends and allies.
"Our trade and investment relationship is already strong – the UK has been the largest G20 investor in India during the last 10 years, and India is a leading global investor in the UK, creating over 7,000 new jobs last year alone, but there is much more we can do."
In pictures: Theresa May meets with EU's Tusk
Thu, April 6, 2017
The two leaders held talks on Brexit negotiations
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European Council President Donald Tusk gestures to members of the media as he leaves 10 Downing street after talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in central London
During the two-day trip, the Chancellor held talks with Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley and, speaking during a joint press conference in Delhi, Mr Jaitley said his country was open for arrangements with Britain that were “mutually beneficial”.
The minister said: “I think once the opportunity arises after Brexit, India is open to all arrangements which are in mutual interests for expanding trade.
“India, as you've seen over the last few years, has been opening out in terms of the nature of investments… and I am quite certain arrangements which are mutually beneficial… is possible.”
Meanwhile, Mr Hammond said he looked forward to building a “mature relationship between equals”.