BREXIT: Commonwealth Looks Inwards For Trade Opportunities

Commonwealt Secretary General, Patricia Scotland
Commonwealt Secretary General, Patricia Scotland

A meeting of the Commonwealth trade and investment ministers ended on Friday in London with a decision to take full advantage of Britain’s impending exit from the European Union to broaden trade and investment cooperation among the 52-member countries.

Participants at the meeting agreed that BREXIT could disrupt market access into the UK and Europe hence the need for the Commonwealth to be proactive.

Secretary-General of the organization, Patricia Scotland stressed during the meeting that “no country should be left behind” in the post-Brexit trade landscape.

The Ministers also acknowledged that Brexit provides pledged commitment to examining specific recommendations for practical initiatives that can be recommended to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2018.

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Ministers and representatives from more than 35 countries attended the meeting which was jointly convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.

Addressing participants, the Secretary-General said: “On trade, our family has never been more needed than it is today.

“We all know that we’ve been living in troubled times and together we will have to look very carefully at what advantages there are within our family.

“Intra-Commonwealth trade has never been more important.”

She also noted that the Commonwealth “must see how the global trade landscape can be changed in favour of that advantage and the particular factors that drive and differentiate intra-Commonwealth trade and investment be improved.”

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At the meeting, ministers identified key challenges hindering trade competitiveness and discussed how to overcome them through mutual support.

They underscored the importance of building a global economy that benefits all of the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion citizens, noting that developing countries need an enabling global trading environment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Commonwealth is currently assisting more than 30 countries on their effective integration into the global trading system as well as building their capacity to take advantage of opportunities, including improving trade competitiveness.

Ministers also noted the important role of the private sector in facilitating trade and investment.

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They welcomed Commonwealth initiatives to forge business to business links and pledged to continue to engage with the private sector in a pan-Commonwealth setting.

Lord Marland, Chairman, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council said: “There is an opportunity for the Commonwealth to demonstrate global leadership on free and fair trade.

“Businesses want to see stability, transparency, predictability and the rule of law and the Commonwealth can work together to improve the ease of doing business in all member countries.

“This will allow companies, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises, to have the confidence to trade and invest across the Commonwealth.”