May seeks Commonwealth trade boost as final Brexit talks begin
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.”