May seeks Com­mon­wealth trade boost as fi­nal Brexit talks be­gin

Business Standard - - WORLD - Lon­don, 16 April

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May on Mon­day ex­tolled the ben­e­fits of free trade among Com­mon­wealth coun­tries, seek­ing new sources of com­merce as Britain looks to fi­nalise di­vorce terms with its cur­rent big­gest trad­ing part­ner, the Euro­pean Union.

May is look­ing to win the sup­port of the Com­mon­wealth, a net­work of mostly for­mer Bri­tish colonies, for fu­ture trade deals at a meet­ing of its lead­ers in Lon­don, and bol­ster her ar­gu­ment that the fu­ture is bright af­ter Brexit.

The Com­mon­wealth, headed by Queen El­iz­a­beth, is not a for­mal trad­ing bloc with a free-trade agree­ment. In 2015 it ac­counted for only 9 per cent of Bri­tish ex­ports while by con­trast the EU, which Britain voted to leave in 2016, ac­counted for around 44 per cent.

Speak­ing at the open­ing of a Com­mon­wealth busi­ness fo­rum, May urged the use of com­mon stan­dards across the net­work of 53 coun­tries, warn­ing that global growth was frag­ile and that pro­tec­tion­ism posed a clear threat to the world econ­omy.

“With its unique scope and global voice, such a Com­mon­wealth can set a pow­er­ful ex­am­ple to the world, one that demon­strates and un­der­lines the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing free trade and the rules-based in­ter­na­tional or­der,” she said.

“Freer and eas­ier trade means stronger economies, more jobs, more choice and lower prices.”

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