UK Trade Minister Lord Clinton Davis: “The UK will underline support for the Government of Yemen.” [Archives:1997/48/Law & Diplomacy]
“We are now finalizing arrangements to provide cover through the Economic Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) for business with Yemen,” said Lord Clinton Davis, Trade Minister in London. The British official was speaking to the Yemen Times at the end of his short visit to Sanaa last week. He indicated that during his visit he was granted a 45-minute audience with President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He also met a number of ministers and businessmen. “We are delighted with the positive reports of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Yemen. They indicate that Yemen has done well in its reform package.” The minister said that he was overwhelmed with the warm feeling for the UK in Yemen. “I felt I was among friends, and I could see the keen interest among Yemeni officials to further develop the very friendly bilateral relations,” he said. Speaking about the potential of British economic assistance to Yemen, the minister indicated that the ‘White Paper’ presented by Foreign Aid Minister Claire Short calls for “UK participation in battling poverty worldwide”. “I am sure Yemen will be included in this UK effort.” He also pointed out as the UK gets ready to take over the EU presidency as of January 1st, 1998, it will definitely take a very important position to underline “visible support for the Government of Yemen”. But the minister was also interested in promoting trade relations between the two countries. “We are planning seven different trade missions during 1998. We will leave no stone unturned in order to increase the exchange of goods and services.” On the issue of investments, Lord Davis said that many British companies are studying options and possibilities, especially in the Aden Free Zone. “Don’t forget. The UK is already the largest foreign investor in Yemen,” he pointed out. He said that the issue of Yemen’s application for membership with the Commonwealth of Nations was not discussed. He did say, however, that the UK Government would support the Yemeni application, provided the necessary conditions for membership are met. “This is something we can work on together.” Yemeni companies continue to interact positively and strongly with the UK overtures. Many leading businessmen met with the minister and discussed future plans. Mr. Jamal Al-Mutarreb, a key person in the Sanaa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, indicated that plans are being worked out to arrange for a Yemeni business delegation to visit the UK, in March, 1998. The Yemeni-British Friendship Association has also been playing a major role in strengthening bilateral relations. It has hosted several activities towards that end. Along the same lines, the British Council has been active in promoting Britain in Yemen. On Monday, November 24th, it launched the ‘British Week’ events in Yemen.