UK seeks trade boost in Com­mon­wealth as fi­nal Brexit talks be­gin

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

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 fi­nal­ize di­vorce terms with the EU.

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 per­cent of Bri­tish ex­ports while by con­trast the EU ac­counted for around 44 per­cent.

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.”

Bri­tain’s ap­peal to the Com­mon­wealth comes as Brexit ne­go­tia­tors pre­pare to be­gin work on a fu­ture trade agree­ment with the EU, which the govern­ment hopes will al­low fric­tion­less trade with the bloc to con­tinue.

May’s min­is­ters have spent much of their time since the 2016 exit vote tour­ing the globe, tout­ing Bri­tain’s abil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate its own trade deals with coun­tries in­clud­ing Com­mon­wealth states such as Aus­tralia, In­dia and New Zealand as one of the main ben­e­fits of life out­side the EU.

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