Theresa May travelled to India for trade talks shorty after becoming Prime Minister
The first ever Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting is being held to amplify the 52 members’ global exports worth £2.7trillion – which stands for about 15 per cent of the world’s total exports.
The summit will explore ways of utilise the so-called ‘Commonwealth Factor’ which makes it on average 19 per cent cheaper to do business between Commonwealth countries.
The two-day summit will gather 35 Commonwealth Trade Ministers, including representatives from Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.
Commonwealth exports are worth around £2.7 trillion
A trading system group is perhaps more important now than ever before
Lord Marland of Odstock
More than 60 business leaders from a variety of sectors, including blue chip organisations such as Burberry, De La Rue, Standard Chartered, Santander, Jumia, Prudential and Fonterra will also be there.
Brexit and Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) have changed global trade networks and countries affected by these landmark political decision are keen to take advantage of the shifting landscape.
Intra-Commonwealth trade was estimated to stand at £477 billion in 2013.
Trade ministers will be urged to define an ‘Agenda for Growth’ to promote trade, investment and job creation in member countries by maximising opportunities offered by the Commonwealth network such as shared language, legal systems, regulatory frameworks and cultural values.
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Britain wants to boost trade links with Commonwealth nations
Lord Marland of Odstock, chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, said: “The Executive Order to pull the USA out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), alongside the UK’s decision to exit the EU, mean that a trading system group is perhaps more important now than ever before.
“The level of attendance, both from ministers and private sector is a testament to the enduring and enabling power of the Commonwealth and will help to focus the agenda in the lead-up to a UK-hosted Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Spring 2018 on our shared objectives of increasing growth, creating jobs and ensuring that trade remains as free and fair as possible.
“The Commonwealth holds a unique position in global trade and the development of an Accord that Commonwealth countries could agree to trade under, would be a significant achievement.”
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Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, who will co-host a closed-door ministerial meeting on at Marlborough House, said: “This Commonwealth gathering takes place at a challenging time for world trade.
“Upheavals currently taking place in the global trade landscape make it more important than ever to look at how we can increase trade by making more of the immense potential and distinctive dynamic arising from our Commonwealth advantage of similar systems of governance, administration and law.
“Over these two days we are bringing together the ministers and officials responsible for trade in Commonwealth countries, and representatives of business in every continent and ocean, in order to build on this advantage to accelerate development, prosperity, and employment opportunities, by boosting intra-Commonwealth trade.”