Since Brexit worries have rippled through the Commonwealth’s 52 members
Patricia Scotland claimed in the wake of the June referendum, worries have rippled through the Commonwealth’s 52 members.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal said the Commonwealth feared new and increased tariffs on many of the free-trade agreements they currently have in place.
But despite uncertainties, she said Brexit presented fresh opportunities.
She said: “I think there’s no point in trying to diminish the challenges. They are real.
Images from inside the House of Lords: Peers have voted to guarantee EU citizens' rights Wed, March 1, 2017
The House of Lords voted overwhelmingly in favour of an amendment to the Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit legislation
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A packed House of Lords, London, as the Government is facing possible defeat in the House of Lords as peers push for guarantees over the rights of EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit
“But we are now having to accept that this is where we are.
“And with every disaster there are… opportunities [and] you have to take opportunities to rebuild.”
In an attempt to build bridges, Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, will meet with ministers from more than 30 members in London for the first trade summit in the organisation’s history.
The first trade summit in the organisation’s history will be held soon
But Baroness Scotland warned it may be too little too late after prioritising trade with the EU for the past 20 years.
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Despite a mutual thaw in relations between the UK and some Commonwealth countries, the potential for new trade could be highly lucrative and mutually beneficial.
Baroness Scotland’s staff believe UK exports to India could rise “by almost 50 per cent” if a free-trade agreement can be reached between London and New Delhi.
You have to take opportunities to rebuild
The red-tape of the EU has hindered some members from striking trade deals in the past, India being one of those at a disadvantage.
Primarily importing machinery and mechanical appliances, India has so far been blocked from agreeing a trade deal with Brussels particularly due to the bloc’s stance on food imports.
Baroness Scotland’s staff believe UK exports to India could rise “by almost 50 per cent”
One official said: “We see a lot of potential that a better agreement for India and the UK can come out.”
And a research paper by the Commonwealth secretariat found that trade with the members would cost around 20 per cent less than expected, taking into account the vast and varying distances between them.
She said Brexit presented fresh opportunities
Baroness Scotland said: “The question facing us now is, if we have that 20 per cent advantage, what can we do to boost it to 25 per cent or 30 per cent?
“There’s a diamond here and we are not picking it up.”