Philip Hammond travels to Africa and Asia to seek post-Brexit trade

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond is heading to South Africa, South Korea and Japan to scout for new markets as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

The trip begins on Wednesday in South Africa, where Hammond is due to meet officials at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, business representatives and financial technology start-ups this week, the Treasury said in a statement. South Africa is the continent’s biggest buyer of British goods.

In Japan, the chancellor will meet with Softbank Group Corp. Chief Executive Officer and founder Masayoshi Son, who was due to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday. Softbank bought British chip designer Arm Holdings Plc in July. Hammond will also meet with Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and Japanese investors, before heading to South Korea for talks with central bank chief, Lee Ju-Yeol, and government ministers.

It marks the latest diplomatic push as the government attempts to lay the foundations for bilateral trade ties once the Britain leaves the EU. Theresa May has visited China and India since becoming prime minister in July and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is due to travel to Australia early next year.

“As we leave the EU, Britain’s future prosperity depends on maintaining the strongest possible economic links with our European neighbors, while building on the already strong economic partnerships we have with the world beyond Europe,” Hammond said in a statement.

May is currently on a visit to Bahrain, a trip opposition lawmakers called the “shabby face of Brexit” because of the Gulf state’s human-rights record.