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U.K. Companies Eye Angolan Deals as Trade Soars, Simmonds Says

U.K. companies may sign new agreements with Angola in mining, energy and construction as exports show “quite extraordinary” growth, said Britain’s minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds.

U.K. exports to Angola expanded 65 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, Simmonds said in a June 25 interview in Angola’s capital, Luanda. That compares with a rise of about 38 percent in 2013. British companies may sign agreements in defense, agriculture and higher education, he said.

“There is plenty of evidence of a real increase in activity, which suggests that the relationship has really moved up a gear,” Simmonds said.

The southwestern African country is rebuilding after a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and plans to diversify its economy away from the oil that accounts for almost 80 percent of state revenue, according to the International Monetary Fund. Angola, the continent’s second-biggest crude producer after Nigeria, expects to increase its non-oil revenue by 6.4 percent this year from 5.8 percent in 2013, the IMF said.

The value of U.K. exports to Angola rose to 548.2 million pounds ($933.1 million) last year from 401.5 million pounds in 2012, Debbie Paynter, a political officer at the British Embassy in Angola, said by e-mail on June 26. Angola exported 804.5 million pounds worth of goods to the U.K. in 2013, compared with 660.4 million pounds the previous year.

“Angola is now Scotland’s second-biggest export market for oil and gas products after only the U.S.,” Simmonds said. “We want to help Angola diversify its economy for a more sustainable development.” Oil accounts for 96 percent of Angola’s exports, the World Bank said in June 2013.

U.K.-based companies such as BP Plc, Diageo Plc and Aggreko Plc already operate in the country, Simmonds said. The U.K. is also considering establishing a U.K.-Angola chamber of commerce to cater for growing business needs, he said.

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