UK-Brazil Relations - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1.  The Government has committed itself to revitalising relations between the UK and Latin America in general and Brazil in particular. Shortly after coming to office, in June 2010, the Government announced that it would "seek close engagement with [...] Brazil".[1] In November 2010, the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague MP, giving the "Canning Lecture" at Canning House, stated that:

Now is the time for Britain at last to think afresh about Latin America and the opportunities it presents for political co-operation and trade and investment that will benefit all our citizens.

He went on to say that the Government would focus its diplomatic efforts on creating a stronger relationship between the UK and Latin America.

Latin America must be a key focus of a foreign policy that seeks, as ours does, to build up new and strengthened relations in the world in pursuit of prosperity and security.[2]

2.  In July 2010 we agreed to conduct an inquiry into UK-Brazil Relations early in the Parliament. This inquiry would build on work by our predecessor Committee in the last Parliament into the relationship between the UK and the other so-called "BRIC" countries,[3] Russia, India and China.[4]

3.  On 2 March 2011 we held an informal private seminar with Mr Angus Lapsley, Director, Americas, and Mr Matt Field, Head of Brazil and Southern Cone Team, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and separately with Professor Anthony Pereira, King's College, London, Michael Reid, The Economist, and Silio Boccanera, O Globo. We are grateful to the participants in this seminar, which helped us to take decisions on the scope of the inquiry.

4.  On 31 March we announced terms of reference for the inquiry. The Committee would examine the following topics:

  • Brazil as an international actor. Brazil's interaction with the UN and its role on the international stage on issues such as nuclear non-proliferation;
  • Trade. The role of UKTI in promoting trade in Brazil, and the experience of British companies who have attempted trading in Brazil;
  • The environment. Brazil's management of the rainforest, and bilateral and multilateral efforts to prevent climate change; including the Cancun Conference;
  • Energy security. The discovery of large stocks of oil and gas in Brazilian waters;
  • Security and criminality. Brazil's role as a regional power in areas such as the Falklands and the prevention of the transit of narcotics through South America into Britain.

5.  We held three evidence sessions with expert witnesses and the relevant Minister. These were as follows:

  • On 27 April we took evidence from Mr Neil Atkinson of Datamonitor, Paul Domjan, an energy consultant working for John Howell and Company, and Dr Frank Rosillo-Calle, a research fellow specialising in energy production at Imperial College, London, on the topic of energy security; Mark Bishop of SOCA on the topic of security and criminality; and David Norman and Dr Sandra Charity of WWF on the environment;
  • On 11 May we took evidence from Nicholas Armour and Tony Lamb, UKTI, and Philip Brown from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, on trade matters, and Professor Andrew Hurrell, University of Oxford, and Dr Marieke Riethof, University of Liverpool, on Brazil as an international actor.
  • Our final oral evidence session took place on 8 June when we took evidence from Jeremy Browne MP, the FCO Minister with responsibility for South America. Mr Browne was accompanied by Angus Lapsley, Director, Americas, and Vivien Life, Acting Director of the Prosperity Directorate, FCO.

We received 11 pieces of written evidence. We would like to thank all those individuals and organisations who gave written and oral evidence to our inquiry.

6.  We concluded our inquiry with a visit to Brazil on 13-17 June. We held meetings with interlocutors in Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and São Paulo. The itinerary of our visit is annexed to this Report. We would like to thank all our interlocutors during the visit, as well as the staff of the British Embassy and other FCO posts in Brazil who did an excellent job in organising the visit.

1   FCO Business Plan Update, June 2011 Back

2   Foreign Secretary, Canning Lecture, Canning House, 9 November 2010. Canning House is the home of the Hispanic and Luso Brazilian Council Back

3   BRIC is an acronym standing for "Brazil, Russia, India and China". Back

4   See: Foreign Affairs Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2005-06, East Asia, HC 860; Foreign Affairs Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2006-07, South Asia, HC 55; and Foreign Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2007-08, Global Security: Russia, HC 51. Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 18 October 2011