Prime Minister’s speech at the Commonwealth Business Forum
Ladies and gentlemen,
how absolutely wonderful to be here in Kigali for our long-delayed family reunion, as the Commonwealth
I’m sorry to say I missed the dance last night, Jonathan, it’s great to see you strutting your funky stuff, the way you used to be. Let’s hear Jonathan Marland on the dance floor
By the way, the weather is absolutely gorgeous here in Rwanda today, but I have to tell you, here’s an amazing stat – it’s actually warmer in London – or so my staff just told me.
It’s a very very timely meeting as Jonathan just said we’ve all come out of the misery of the covid shutdowns and look at what’s happening in the world today – sadly we still see economic pressures
And we see spikes in the cost of energy, spikes in the cost of food and fertilizer
I was talking about it with Paul Kagame earlier
But what if there was a miracle fertilizer, a business fertilizer, that would grow your business, increase your profits and reduce your costs, by 21%?
There is such a fertilizer, and I will tell you the ingredients
It’s completely harmless, it’s organic, there are no phosphates, no nitrates, it won’t cause algae blooms
I’ll tell you what the ingredients are, it’s a common language, it’s a familiar sense of our legal and administrative systems, it’s a shared sense of mutual trust between us,
and this fertilizer is called the Commonwealth
I can prove it
this fertilizer reduces the cost of trade between members of the Commonwealth by 21%. It’s 21% higher profits if you do business between commonwealth
that’s 21% efficiency without the cost of management consultants
And now it’s time, my friends, to boost those benefits,
because over the next five years,
total Commonwealth GDP is expected to rise by almost 50% to $19.5 trillion.
And it is these markets, super fertilized markets that will fuel growth and prosperity and create jobs in our countries,
and at the same time help alleviate the cost of living pressures we all face.
So we move forward
And in the UK, we do free trade agreements across the Commonwealth:
we did Australia,
we did New Zealand,
we will make a deal with India before Diwali,
we have signed free trade or economic partnership agreements with 33 of our Commonwealth friends – so far –
and through the Trans-Pacific Partnership,
we are aiming for new agreements with Malaysia and Brunei.
By the way, it’s fantastic to see the birth of the African Continental Free Trade Area, isn’t it a wonderful thing
It will be the biggest in the world,
1.3 billion people,
promising to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty
and generate $450 billion for African nations,
which, by the way, is far more than Africa could ever receive in development aid.
And I massively support this new free trade area in Africa,
I remember the UK helped found the European Free Trade Area many years ago, which was then taken over by what is called the European Union, but whatever
Besides, I’m not necessarily advising you to transform the African free trade area into a single currency, but I’ll leave that entirely to you. And it will be entirely Africa’s business.
But we want to support this project, and we support the new secretariat in Accra,
and that African countries remove trade barriers from their borders,
we make it easy to sell in the UK
because on July 6
we are launching a new preferential trading system for 65 developing countries,
including Rwanda and 17 other members of the Commonwealth.
liberalizing our tariffs, getting rid of these unnecessary, totally vexatious tariffs, which cost more to collect than the income you derive from them
abolish nuisance tariffs – they exist
and improving our rules of origin to make it easier for all our countries to benefit.
And what I feel so strongly about the Commonwealth is that it’s not just about imports and exports – it’s about the partnerships we build
it’s about doing more together to ensure that everyone benefits from the new green industrial revolution.
I saw some of you, I’m proud to say, at the Africa Investment Summit in London in 2020, remember that – just before covid hit, a moment of real optimism
I want you to know that we will do the same next year, and hope to see you again in London next year
and it’s great to announce
that British International Investment is investing £160 million in hydropower in Africa,
create 180,000 jobs, including here in Rwanda,
while reducing carbon emissions, generating electricity for 3 million people.
Many African countries I mentioned the sun in London today – it’s exceptional – hope you understand that I’m not bragging about the sun in London, it’s not as constant as here in Africa
And many African countries are blessed with being powered entirely by hydro, solar and wind power.
Am amazing fact, Uhuru told me this, Kenya already gets 90% of its electricity from renewable sources
and they are aiming for 100% by 2030.
And I see a fantastic future for all of us in these initiatives, for all of us
And we, with our Clean Green Initiative in the UK, want to be the partner of choice for our African friends.
as you transform millions of lives through modern infrastructure,
meeting the highest standards of transparency and environmental protection.
And that’s because free enterprise generates the resources for better health and better education, which is what we’re trying to do, better outcomes for our people.
than here in Rwanda
infant mortality has fallen by nearly 80% since 2000,
nine out of ten people have health insurance in this country,
virtually all children go to school.
And that’s the kind of future we want to build together
And all I will see for you in conclusion, my friends, is that we in the UK have the technology,
the City of London certainly has the finances,
the government that I am proud to lead has the will,
and our wonderful wonderful Commonwealth, this great institution, has the super fertilizer, to sprinkle in this extraordinary group of countries
and above all to help help you forge a new Africa,
share your optimism that the peoples of this continent
and every member of the Commonwealth
can prosper and prosper through free trade and free enterprise.