Hammond becomes latest minister to visit Gulf in UK's Middle East charm offensive

Mark Sands
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Hammond will visit Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar over the next 48 hours (Source: Getty)

Chancellor Philip Hammond has become the latest government minister to visit the Middle East as part of the UK's ongoing charm offensive aimed at Gulf states.

Hammond will visit Kuwait, UAE and Qatar, following in the footsteps of a several senior figures in Prime Minister Theresa May's regime.

May, herself, visited Bahrain in early December to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council, while foreign secretary Boris Johnson also visited Saudi Arabia last month.

International trade secretary Liam Fox has also visited the region, and Qatari Emir Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited Downing Street in early September.

Read More: Britain can leapfrog the EU to win a free trade deal with the Gulf States

Hammond's visit will see him stress the UK's desire to boost trade link and economic ties with the region – UK exports to the Gulf were £20.4bn in 2015, about 4 per cent of total exports.

Hammond will meet political leaders from all three nations, as well as holding talks with sovereign wealth funds and local investment authorities.

Arriving in the Gulf, he said: “There is huge potential to expand our economic and investment relationships with our Gulf allies in the future and in the last few weeks we’ve seen a number of significant investments into the UK which are a real vote of confidence that together we can seize the opportunities that lie ahead.”

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