May Calls on Com­mon­wealth To Boost Trade


LON­DON (Dis­patches) - Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May will call on the Com­mon­wealth on Mon­day to boost trade and forge new links, launch­ing a sum­mit of the 53 na­tions which have be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to Bri­tain as it leaves the Euro­pean Union.

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

But the meet­ing may be over­shad­owed by May’s de­ci­sion to join U.S. and French air strikes on Syria on Satur­day in re­tal­i­a­tion for a sus­pected poi­son gas at­tack, a re­sponse Syria and its al­lies, Rus­sia and Iran, say vi­o­lates in­ter­na­tional law and has been crit­i­cized by op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers in Bri­tain.

“Our Com­mon­wealth fam­ily al­ready ac­counts for one-fifth of global trade,” May said in a state­ment be­fore the meet­ing. “And we must con­tinue to work to­gether to build fur­ther upon this solid foun­da­tion by build­ing on our ex­ist­ing trade links and es­tab­lish­ing new ones.”

May will un­veil new pro­grams to free up trade, im­prove the skills of young peo­ple and boost women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in busi­ness, in­clud­ing an of­fer of 7 mil­lion pounds ($10 mil­lion) in Com­mon­wealth-wide sup­port to boost women-owned busi­nesses in coun­tries where be­ing fe­male is a pro­fes­sional bar­rier.

In a sign of the in­creas­ingly im­por­tance of the net­work of coun­tries, May will also an­nounce fund­ing for a new Com­mon­wealth Stan­dards Net­work to es­tab­lish a com­mon lan­guage for goods and ser­vices to help boost trade.

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