The Prosperity Fund: Opportunities in a Time of Change

  • Hermione Greenhalgh

Latin America is undergoing an unprecedented time of change. New governments in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico are formulating reform programmes of different varieties but all aim to make their countries more prosperous and economically stable. The UK Government is working closely with governments in each country delivering programmes designed to open markets and generate opportunities.

On Wednesday 27 February, Canning House, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) held an exclusive conference to provide full details of the programmes and how companies can engage in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico at this time – the first conference of its kind.

Cristina Cortes, CEO of Canning House; Nigel Baker, Head of the Latin American Department at the FCO; and Mark Prisk MP, Trade Envoy to Brazil, gave welcoming words and spoke about about the current investment climate in Latin America, noting the optimism in all three countries that the UK’s departure from the EU could provide opportunities for Latin American countries to establish more partnerships with UK businesses and government.

(L-R) Cristina Cortes, Mark Prisk MP and Nigel Baker give welcoming words

Baroness Bonham-Carter, Trade Envoy to Mexico, introduced Mexico’s programme. The audience then heard from Helena Crowther, Deputy Director DIT Mexico; Ricardo Johnson, Head of ODI and Strategic Partnerships Mexico; and Sergio Andujo, Mexico Programme Team, about the opportunities, challenges and Prosperity Fund success stories in Mexico; including the UK-manufactured double decker red buses that now operate in Mexico City.

Baroness Bonham-Carter introduces the Mexico programme

Rose Geeson, Head of the Brazil Programme Team, then spoke about the opportunities in Brazil opened up by the Prosperity Fund. Though Brazil is a comparatively closed market, as the largest Latin American economy it has huge potential for growth. Among many burgeoning sectors, Brazil’s renewable energy market is booming, with 76% of its electricity produced from renewable sources. Brazil is looking to increase competition and stimulate innovation, which presents many commercial opportunities for UK businesses.

Rose Geeson and representatives from the Brazil team

Finally, Venetia Paiz-Merino, Policy Advisor to the Colombia Programme Team, and Paula Ospina, Senior Investment Officer at ProColombia, presented the Prosperity Fund in Colombia, which prioritises poverty reduction, gender equality and unlocking growth in post-conflict and conflict-affected regions. The team hopes to attract UK companies that can offer innovative solutions and expertise in infrastructure, agriculture and institutional strengthening, in particular.

Joanna Crellin, HM Trade Commissioner to Latin America and the Caribbean, concluded the country presentations, welcoming the Prosperity Fund as a needed intervention to spark UK interest and sustainable growth in the region. Three break-out sessions then took place, focusing on Infrastructure & Smart Cities, Financial Services & Green Finance, and Energy & Climate Change. Cristina Cortes and Anjoum Noorani, Deputy Head of Mission in Mexico, then gave closing remarks before the attendees were given a final opportunity to network with UK diplomats and country programme teams.

For more information on the Prosperity Fund and investing in Latin America, contact us.

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