By Claire West

Secretary of State for Business Dr Vince Cable is to lead a delegation of more than 25 world-class UK companies to Brazil on Tuesday, in the first ministerial visit between the countries since the UK elections in May.

With Brazil tipped to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050, this visit is the second to enact the Coalition Government’s pledge to build relationships with key partners for the twenty first century. It follows the Prime Minister David Cameron’s successful delegation to India in July.

Dr Cable will engage with business leaders and government representatives over four days in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. With his Brazilian counterpart, Miguel Jorge, he will work to build closer ties between the countries, co-chairing the annual Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) together.

Dr Cable will also explore the potential for partnership across a range of key areas, from developing the world-leading expertise that can deliver a successful Olympic Games in London 2012 and Rio 2016, to encouraging industrial cooperation in sectors such as defence and security, energy and advanced engineering.

Speaking today ahead of the visit, Dr Cable said:

“The UK Government has made it a priority to enhance our relationships with our key partners. I have therefore made it an early priority to meet face to face with colleagues in Brazil, which is the emerging power of the Americas.

“Brazil is the world’s eighth largest economy, accounting for over half of South America’s total GDP. I am encouraged to see that UK goods exports to Brazil have more than doubled since 2004 to reach £1.7 billion in 2009, in spite of the downturn. But it is clear to me that there is great untapped potential in our business relationship, and the UK can play an important part as increasing numbers of Brazilian companies seek to internationalise.”

UK companies are leaders in many areas of real importance to the Brazilian economy and many already operate here.

In education (Pearson provides educational services to Brazil’s growing workforce);

In energy (Shell and Cosan have just signed an agreement to supply biofuel, while BG is the largest foreign investor in oil and gas in Brazil);

In infrastructure (Halcrow has provided consultancy services for the high speed train projects which, when done, will link Rio and São Paulo);

In advanced engineering (Rolls Royce and GKN are active in Brazil);

In biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (GlaxoSmithkline is active in Brazil).