Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is heading to the Amazon jungle to view front line efforts in the battle against the illegal trade in wildlife.
Mr Johnson’s jungle trip on Saturday comes at the start of a five-day tour of Latin America, taking in Peru, Argentina and Chile, as part of the drive to drum up post-Brexit trade.
He will be the first foreign secretary to visit Argentina since 1993, as the UK tries to reset a relationship with Buenos Aires which was thrust into the deep freeze by the bellicose approach to the Falklands of presidents Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Kirchner between 2003 and 2015.
The arrival of Mauricio Macri as president has seen Argentina dial down its rhetoric on the disputed islands and seek engagement with the wider world, including by hosting the G20 this year.
Mr Johnson will attend a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Buenos Aires on Monday, and Theresa May is due to become the first prime minister since Tony Blair in 2001 to visit Argentina by taking part in the leaders’ summit in November.
Britain is already using its experience from the 2012 London Olympics to support Peru’s preparations for next year’s Pan Am Games in Lima, with construction contracts linked to the sporting spectacle likely to attract bids from UK firms.
Latin America is a vibrant and dynamic part of the world that works closely with the UK on a number of issues including trade, security, science, infrastructure and education, among othersForeign Secretary Boris Johnson
The three South American countries on Mr Johnson’s itinerary are viewed as key targets for enhanced UK exports after Brexit, because of their support for free trade and their growing middle classes creating a market for British expertise in areas such as infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and professional services.
The UK currently provides only about 1% of imports in each country – a figure which London believes should be higher. Peru and Chile already have free trade agreements with the EU, which the UK hopes can be rolled over after Brexit.
Mr Johnson will be joined on his trip to the Peruvian jungle by President Martin Vizcarra. The pair will see the work of an animal rescue centre as well as launching a UK-funded solar project providing electricity and drinking water for a remote Amazonian school.
The visit to Peru – the first by a British foreign secretary for more than 50 years – forms part of preparations for a major international conference on the illegal wildlife trade, hosted by the UK in London in October.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Johnson said: “This will be my first visit to the region since becoming Foreign Secretary.
“Latin America is a vibrant and dynamic part of the world that works closely with the UK on a number of issues including trade, security, science, infrastructure and education, among others.
“I am looking forward to strengthening the UK’s relationship with countries in the region, as well as representing the UK at the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting for important talks on climate change, the illegal wildlife trade and how to ensure girls across the world receive 12 years of quality education.”
As well as attending the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, Mr Johnson is due to hold talks with President Macri and foreign minister Jorge Faurie.
In Chile, he will meet President Sebastian Pinera and foreign minister Roberto Ampuero as well as visiting a British Council-funded project which aims to train young women in coding skills.