The UK Labour Party has pledged to reintroduce the concept of town twinning between UK and African cities to help improve export opportunities should they win the next election.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna criticised the coalition government for not maximising the potential for UK exports of low carbon goods and services to Africa.

Speaking at a Green Alliance event in London, Umunna comments: “We are pioneering low carbon technologies that are hugely desirable all over the world and we’ve got to be far more confident about selling that and what we do.”

“Twin cities helped prepare and rebuild the fabric of European co-operation after it was ripped by World War II. I think we have to reinvent city partnerships for a new era of smart cities, between cities here and the engines of African growth.”

Umunna also promised to close a legal loophole allowing UK exporters of coal products to secure financing for overseas business expansion.

British coal businesses can still officially secure export finance for overseas projects, despite the coalition government’s announcement last year that the UK would join the US in blocking public financing for polluting coal-fired power stations.

The current law means UK export finance can’t discriminate between classes or types of export. Labour wants the upcoming Queen’s Speech to include UK export finance reforms preventing fossil fuel exporters from securing government money.

“The loophole needs to be closed and we would take action to close it. We hope the Queen’s Speech will reflect the sensible measures taken by the Obama administration in the US,” says Umunna.