CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Britain will use its international aid budget to strengthen its own interests while deepening trade relations with Africa, Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday to counter critics who say aid is better spent At home.
May, struggling to unite her divided Conservative Party over her plan to exit Britain from the European Union, visits South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya on her first official trip to the continent.
Speaking in Cape Town, May said she wanted Britain to become the largest investor in the Seven Nations group in Africa, overtaking the US by using the aid budget to help British companies invest in the continent ,
The government has announced the prospect of increased trade with non-EU countries as one of Brexit's main selling points as it prepares to leave the bloc in March next year, currently the largest trading partner.
In April, a Commonwealth meeting took place in the UK, including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, which sought to revive the network of mostly former colonies and establish new trade among its members.
May has once again committed to leaving the British aid budget at 0.7 percent of GDP, but said it would use it in a way that helped Britain.
"I'm not ashamed that our UK aid program works," May said.
"Today, I commit to not only counteracting extreme poverty, but tackling global challenges and our own support their own national interest. "
Britain's foreign aid amounted to £ 1
May, accompanied by a delegation of British business people, said Britain will work with African countries to combat job insecurity and migration.
19659013] "It is in the interest of the world to see these jobs created to tackle the causes and symptoms of extremism and instability, manage migratory flows and promote clean growth," said May.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, direct foreign direct investment in Africa in 2016 was £ 43 billion ($ 55.5 billion) compared to £ 44 billion ($ 56.7 billion) in the United States.
Investments from France, which maintains close ties with its former colonies in West Africa, amounted to £ 38 billion ($ 49 billion) and China quickly became a major player in Africa, £ 31 billion ($ 40 billion) ,
Last year, Great Britain was South Africa's sixth largest trading partner with total trade of $ 79.5 billion ($ 5.6 billion), said the office of the South African president.
Under the banner of creating a "Global Britain", Trade Minister Liam Fox, a prominent proponent of Brexit, quoted the International Monetary Fund study as saying that 90 percent of global growth next year will be generated outside the EU.
Phil Clark, a lecturer in African politics at the School of African and Oriental Studies at the University of London, said that if Britain confronts the full impact of Brexit, African states will emerge from a position of strength in discussions.
"They understand the UK's situation very well and they have a variety of other trading partners, including China, India and Russia," he wrote in a note. "If Britain's offerings do not coincide with those of these other international partners, May will come home empty-handed."
May also said Britain supports South Africa's land reform program, provided it is legalized. She would discuss the subject with President Cyril Ramaphosa, she said.
"The UK has been supporting land reform for some time, a land reform that is legal, that is, transparent, generated through a democratic process," Mai said when asked by a reporter,
Last week, South Africa accused US President Donald Trump of fomenting segregation after saying he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate South African "land and peasant seizures" and "killing peasants."
Additional coverage by Kate Holton and William James in London and Joe Brock in Johannesburg; Edited by James Macharia and