An Essex-based company is among 40 UK businesses taking part in a trade mission to Latin America which is being led by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

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The three-day trip, which begins today, involves visits to Mexico and Colombia, with the delegation also including Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston and Mexico Trade Envoy Baroness Bonham-Carter.

Among the firms taking part is Lifesaver Systems from Marks Tey, near Colchester, which has developed innovative “nano-filtration” technology to make dirty water fit for drinking by removing bacteria, parasites and viruses without the use of chemicals, power or ultraviolet light.

Other businesses represented on this week’s trip include major international names such as banking giant HSBC, engine manufacturer Rolls Royce, commercial banknote printer De La Rue and oil and energy firm Shell.

Mr Clegg, who is the most senior British government minister to visit Colombia since 1992. said: “The global influence of Colombia and Mexico, both politically and economically, is increasing at an incredible rate. It is by forging greater ties with countries like these that we can rebuild our economy, find new export markets for British businesses, identify new opportunities, and sign new contracts.”

He addede: “The UK took its eye off the Latin American ball, and as a result we’ve fallen behind many of our other European competitors. Mexico and Colombia are two economies where the British presence has been too small, too reticent and too modest for far too long. There is so much we can do to catch up, and we’re making progress.

“Already we are major players as the second largest investor in Colombia and the fifth largest in Mexico. We’ve seen a 126% increase in the export relationship with Colombia between 2009-12, and a 9% increase in UK to Mexico exports in the last year alone.

“Yet despite all that progress, the commercial and trading relationship between our nations is still a fraction of what it could be. That’s why I’m so pleased to spearhead on behalf of the British government, a major delegation – the first of its kind to Colombia – from the UK from a huge diversity of sectors. This is a real message of intent.”

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