Commonwealth offers ‘unique opportunity’ for UK trade, says Johnson

The PM said the bloc provides ‘vast and growing’ markets for British producers, creating jobs and easing of living pressures.

Britain’s membership of the Commonwealth provides a “unique opportunity” to expand its trade with a series of “vast and growing” markets now that it has left the EU, Boris Johnson has said (Joe Giddens/PA)
Britain’s membership of the Commonwealth provides a “unique opportunity” to expand its trade with a series of “vast and growing” markets now that it has left the EU, Boris Johnson has said (Joe Giddens/PA)

Britain’s membership of the Commonwealth provides a “unique opportunity” to expand its trade with a series of “vast and growing” markets now that it has left the EU, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister, who will this week attend the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Rwanda, said economic links with fellow member states would create jobs at home and ease the pressures on the cost of living.Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said the bloc’s gross domestic product (GDP) of 13.1 trillion dollars (£10.7 trillion) has risen by a quarter since 2017.

Over the next five years it is to forecast to increase by another 50% to 19.5 trillion dollars (£15.9 trillion).

All of this creates a unique opportunity for Britain whereby the Commonwealth – and only the Commonwealth – combines vast and rapidly growing markets with a real and quantified trading advantage

Boris Johnson

At the same time, Mr Johnson said, its members were joined by an “invisible thread” of shared values, history and institutions as well as the English language, creating a “Commonwealth advantage” when it came to trade.

“It is an amazing fact that those invisible threads – particularly a common language and familiar legal and administrative systems – are of immense practical value for trade,” he wrote.

“Today the ‘Commonwealth advantage’ knocks 21% off the cost of trade between members. The same applies to investment, which is 27% higher between Commonwealth nations than for other country pairs.

“All of this creates a unique opportunity for Britain whereby the Commonwealth – and only the Commonwealth – combines vast and rapidly growing markets with a real and quantified trading advantage.

“That is why we are mobilising the UK’s regained sovereignty to sign free trade or economic partnership agreements with as many Commonwealth countries as possible.”

Mr Johnson said that so far the UK had completed agreements with 33 Commonwealth members – including Australia and New Zealand – and was aiming for India, the biggest of them all, by Diwali in October.

“You only have to look at the sheer scale of economic expansion in many of the club’s biggest members to see why the Commonwealth trade advantage is going to become ever more important for British jobs and livelihoods,” he said.“Here are the growing markets for British exports that will create jobs at home and, at the same time, ease the pressure on the cost of living.”

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