» Friday, October 31, 2008

Gulf Trip

The Prime Minister s Spokesman (PMS) began by saying that the Prime Minister was leading a Ministerial team and a business delegation to the Gulf this weekend. The purpose of the visit was three-fold. Firstly, Gulf States were critical to stabilising and rebuilding the global economy and to Britain s prosperity. Their accumulated wealth made them important potential contributors to refinancing and stabilising the global markets.

Secondly, they produced more than half the world s oil and would provide more than 20% of the UK s gas. As such they were very important for Britain s energy security and future needs. They were also major investors in renewable energy technology.

Thirdly, they were major investors in the UK and an important target for UK trade, and the seniority of the business delegation going on the trip was testament to that.

Beyond those three purposes there were also important political elements to the visit. Their political and economic support was important to our objectives in the region, for example in Iraq, the Middle East peace process and in our efforts to tackle violent extremism.

We also had flourishing educational and cultural links with universities investing in each other and cultural institutions building links.

Asked which Ministers were going, the PMS said Ed Miliband and Lord Mandelson were joining the Prime Minister on the trip.

Asked which business leaders were going and how many, the PMS said that there were currently 27 going but the final delegation list was still being prepared. The list was made up of senior level people from major UK construction, energy, financial services and industrial companies.

Asked if the Prime Minister would urge Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries not to put up oil prices, the PMS said that we would continue the dialogue that began in Jeddah in June i.e. emphasise the importance of transparency and stability in the oil price and, over the longer term, the importance of investment in renewable energy.

Asked if the Prime Minister would urge an increase in the production of oil, the PMS said that the principles set out in Jeddah were stability and transparency because we recognised that, over the long term, global demand for oil was increasing and so, long term, the price was likely to increase. What we wanted to avoid were the sudden sharp increases that we had seen in recent months. This was a dialogue that would continue through the meetings over the next few days and on to the 15 November meeting in Washington and the Energy Ministers meeting in London in December.

Asked if there had been any signs of progress since Jeddah, the PMS said that since Jeddah we had seen a marked change in the global economy and in the stability of global financial markets, and that would be reflected in the conversations that the Prime Minister would have. For more detail on that it was best to wait until the Prime Minister had talked to the leaders in the region.

Asked if the Prime Minister was going on this trip with cup in hand, the PMS said no, the Prime Minister was not. It was in everyone s interest that there was stability and long term sustainable growth in global markets. It was equally in the interest of states in the Gulf region and they were in a position, as states with significant reserves, to contribute to refinancing the global financial system.

Asked if the Prime Minister was going to be targeting a particular government for a sum of money, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had referred to this yesterday during his press conference with the German Chancellor. The Prime Minister was having discussions with a whole range of world leaders in the run up to the meeting of European leaders next week in Brussels, and in preparation for 15 November meeting in Washington. Talks were ongoing with the relevant world leaders.

Asked what else the Prime Minister might want sovereign wealth funds to invest in besides renewable energy, the PMS said that Gulf States invested in a whole range of UK business and that would be reflected in the conversations that the Prime Minister would have over the next few days.

Asked if the Prime Minister recognised that his message at the time of the Jeddah trip was now more difficult to deliver, the PMS said that what we had seen already was investment from these states in renewable energy. The message would stay the same; investing in renewable energy was important for long-term growth and energy requirements, not just of the UK and other developed economies, but also the Gulf States themselves.

Asked if the Prime Minister would raise any human rights concerns during his trip, the PMS said that the Prime Minister s talks with leaders of the Gulf States would cover a range of issues.

Asked if the Prime Minister was hoping to get Gulf money to invest in specific British renewable projects, the PMS said that there were a range of ongoing talks between the relevant organisations in this country and Gulf States and there would be further details next week.

Asked if the Prime Minister was hoping to seal a deal whilst on the trip, the PMS repeated that there was a range of talks underway between business organisations in the UK and counterparts in the Gulf States across a whole range of business. It was possible that we could see an outcome of those talks next week, but it was not appropriate to make any predictions.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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