Official relations between Algeria and the United Kingdom date back to the sixteenth century when John Tipton was appointed First British Consul in Algiers in 1580, following the request of merchants from London interested by the North African market.
Since that date, Algerian-British relations knew moments of hostility and truce until the signature, in 1682, of a Treaty of Peace and Trade, which contributed to the multiplication of contacts and exchanges between the two countries and to the prosperity of their trade.
In addition, several British merchants and privateers settled in the Regency of Algiers, among whom the famous Ramadan Raïs (formerly Henry Chandler) and Yusuf Raïs (Formerly John Ward).
Until the beginning of the 19th century, the British established in Algiers, although not numerous, marked their presence due to their proximity to Algerian dignitaries. They enjoyed privileged treatments compared to other foreigners settled in Algiers.
Historians noted that just after the French invasion of Algeria in 1830, the English Consul, Robert William St John, served as intermediary in the negotiations between the Dey of Algiers and the French army.
The Westminster Parliament rejected in 1833 the right claimed by France to occupy Algeria. A number of English army officers expressed their admiration for the Algerian resistance to the French occupation. Colonel James Scott, who was one of them, even joined Emir Abdelkader, who gave him the privilege of establishing an English company entitled to exploit the mines of Mina (Relizane).
Despite a period agitated by the war in Algeria, the end of the 1850s saw the publication of a series of accounts by English travelers praising the climate of Algeria and the high moral qualities of its population and encouraging their compatriots to settle in the country.
From the 1900s, Algeria was frequently visited by high British dignitaries. King Edward VII of England made a private visit to Algiers in 1905 with his wife Queen Alexandra. They visited the Medersa and the Sidi Abderrahmane Mausoleum in Algiers. It is believed that Queen Victoria visited this Mausoleum during the late 1890s and admired it so much that it offered chandeliers that can be found there to this day.
King Edward VII of England and Queen Alexandra visiting SidiAbderrahmane Mosque -Algiers 1905
After Algeria’s independence on 5th July 1962, relations between Algeria and the United Kingdom experienced new developments and continued to strengthen. Algeria delivered its very first shipment of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the United Kingdom in 1964, making it the first client to import LNG from Algeria.
In the early 1970s, as Algeria embarked on an industrial expansion process, British companies were awarded contracts to supply equipment, machinery and technological expertise.
In the 1980s, the United Kingdom was the second destination (after France) for Algerian students wishing to continue their studies or benefit from trainings abroad. In the early 1990s, the universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, Salford, Leeds and Nottingham had study programs with their Algerian counterparts in Blida, Tizi Ouzou, Constantine, Annaba and Oran.
Algerian-British relations were marked by the historic visit to Algeria by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on 25-27 October 1980. She was received by the late Chadli Bendjedid, then President of the Republic of Algeria and gave a short speech in the National People’s Assembly / Parliament.
On the day of her arrival, Queen Elizabeth II made a visit to Mustapha Bacha Hospital in Algiers, where were treated victims of the tragic earthquake that struck El Asnam (now Chlef) on 10th October 1980.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika made a state visit in the United Kingdom on 11-12 July 2006. It was the first visit by an Algerian Head of state to the UK since independence in 1962. It reflected the will of the two parties to give a fresh impetus to their bilateral relations.
Since then, the diversification of areas of co-operation and the development of bilateral trade continued to have a positive impact on relations between the two countries, from which came the political commitment to further consolidate them. This resulted in Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Algeria on 30-31 January 2013, the first of its kind for a British Prime Minister since independence in 1962. This visit which would cover a broad spectrum of areas of co-operation, was an opportunity for the two countries to make their relations as strong as exemplary.
Political relations and co-operation
Algeria and the United Kingdom maintain a permanent political dialogue, a sign of the good relations of friendship and co-operation that exist between the two countries. This dialogue is reflected in the form of consultation mechanisms and regular exchange of official visits.
The Bilateral Ministerial Committee (the UK-Algeria Joint Committee on Bilateral Relations) was established in 2006 to provide for an appropriate framework for discussing political, economic, educational, cultural relations and international issues of common interest. This Committee has so far held seven sessions, the latest of which took place in Algiers on March 3rd, 2013.
Strategic Partnership in the area of Security: launched in 2013, after Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Algiers, this consultation mechanism aims to strengthen bilateral co-operation in the security field.It has so far held eight sessions, the latest of which took place in Algiers in June 2018.
Algeria and the United Kingdom maintain a regular exchange of visits by ministers and high officials. These exchanges reflect the common desire to explore the potential for co-operation and partnership between the two countries.
Trade and Economic relations
Trade relations between Algeria and the United Kingdom date back to the 17th century, after the signing in 1682 of the Treaty of Peace and Commerce between the two countries.
Energy is the key sector of the economic co-operation between the two countries. British Gas was the first customer of independent Algeria to purchase Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in 1964.
Several British companies are investing in Algeria in the energy field and are considered among the most important foreign investors. Sonatrach, on its part, has been present in the United Kingdom since 1989.
The overall volume of trade between the two countries reached 3 billion dollars in 2019. With 2.6 billion USD of exports to the United Kingdom and 470 million USD of imports. The balance of trade is in surplus in favour of Algeria which exports energy products to the United Kingdom and imports capital goods, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, steel and other manufactured products. As part of the promotion of its non-hydrocarbon exports, Algeria participated in the London International Agri-Food Fair, which was held in March 2017 and at the Birmingham International Agri-Food Show (FOODEX 2018), organized in April 2018.
In order to broaden and diversify this co-operation in various economic fields, the two countries have set up co-operation mechanisms to facilitate contacts and multiply partnerships between the economic perators of the two countries.
In this context, the two parties have updated the economic legal framework. A non-double taxation agreement was signed in Algiers on February 18, 2015 to ease the tax burden on companies based in the two countries. A declaration of intent of co-operation in the field of environmental protection, sustainable development and renewable energies was signed, on March 09, 2020, on the occasion of the visit to Algiers of the British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Mr James Cleverly.
In September 2012, with the intent to further strengthen this co-operation, the British Government appointed Lord Richard RISBY as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for the Economic Partnership with Algeria. Lord Risby regularly visits Algeria as part of the promotion of the presence of British companies in our country.
In the framework of investment promotion, two editions of the Algerian-British Forum on Trade and Investment were organized, the first, in London in December 2014, and the second in Algiers in May 2016. These two forums helped identify avenues for partnership between the business communities of the two countries. Two economic forums were also organized at the Embassy of Algeria in London, on January 21, 2020, on the occasion of the participation of the Minister of Industry and Mines in the Africa-UK Investment Summit, held in London, on January 20, 2020.
With regard to the financial sector, several co-operation projects have been selected in relation with the stock market, the financing of SMEs as well as start-ups, and the modernization of the Tax Administration.
British banks have also been present in Algeria for several years.
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