South America is a source of relatively untapped potential for the UK. The continent offers a wealth of opportunities to develop UK influence and promote mutual prosperity, security and stability.
The FCO’s diplomatic and programming work across the continent has borne success, for example in the UK’s support to the Colombian peace process. The FCO must now reinforce these efforts at multilateral level with likeminded partners. Security threats from the continent, arising from instability in Venezuela, the presence of serious organised crime and widespread corruption, compromise stability in the region, as well as facilitate the trafficking of illegal narcotics to the streets of the UK. The UK Government must continue to monitor and respond to these threats, ensuring they receive adequate resourcing. With Posts simultaneously pursuing multiple and diverse objectives, the FCO must be more selective in prioritising its activities in country to prevent its resources being spread too thinly.
UK companies have been reticent to maximise trade opportunities because of perceived barriers. The UK should highlight its competitive advantages in areas such as its legal tradition in order to compete against other countries with larger economic footprints in the region, such as China.
Human rights remain an area of concern across the continent, especially the rising number of attacks against human rights defenders. The FCO should focus its efforts upon support to human rights defenders at local level.