Britain’s prime minister David Cameron visited Brazil last week with the aim of strengthening UK trade ties with Brazil.

On his two-day visit Cameron led a delegation of 58 businesses with UK trade minister Lord Green, starting in Sao Paulo.

Cameron believes that Brazil-UK trade has not been fulfilling its true potential; the UK accounts for 1.5% of imports to Brazil, compared to 6.4% from Germany.

“This visit is about British jobs, British growth and the British economy, because I want Britain to be tied up to the fastest-growing economies on the planet. Brazil is now a top six economy and this visit is about safeguarding and creating 3,000 jobs back at home,” Cameron said on his trip.

Antonio Alves, principal and head of finance for the Americas at IFC, tells GTR that Brazilian – British trade relations are already improving and that so far this year the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has provided US$150mn in exports from Brazil to the UK, mainly agricultural -products such as sugar, ethanol, coffee, cotton, fruits and poultry. 47% of the total volume financed was directed to small and medium exporters (SMEs) located in frontier regions in Brazil (Northeast region).

Whilst on his trade mission, Cameron was showcasing the skills of UK contractors with the aim of helping them bid for work for Brazil’s upcoming sporting events.

According to the UK’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), “London’s successful summer of sport has put UK firms in the box seat to win 2014 FIFA World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games projects worth as much as £250mn”.

Already 22 British companies have won 36 contracts for the 2014 Brazil World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, which together amount to over £70mn, UKEF says.

Projects include urban and transport planning for nine World Cup host cities, the Olympic Park master plan design contract and communications and IT facilities. Transport for London is also working closely with Rio to share the experience it gained running London’s transport system during the 2012 Games, with the potential for further investment in the UK.

Alves tells GTR: “On the other side of the trade flow, in 2012, the short-term finance department of the IFC has supported US$78mn in import finance specifically focused on bringing capital goods from the UK to Brazil (i.e. machineries and equipment for infra-structure projects), which will help the country on its preparation for the World Cup and the next Summer Olympic games. Going forward, I expect to have an increase on this trade flow, as the collaboration between the two countries and transfer of expertise will be more intense.”
During the visit, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This summer Britain set a new Olympic benchmark. We delivered London 2012 on time and under budget and showed the world that Britain has the skills, capacity, creativity and expertise to put on the greatest show on earth.”

He added: “Now we want to make sure we seize this unique opportunity to build on the close ties we have developed with Brazil as the next host nation, share our experiences and open the door for more British businesses. With UK companies already working closely with Rio 2016, winning contracts and building business links, we are in an ideal position to boost British business in Brazil from Rio 2016 and beyond.”