The recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali was a reminder that of the UK’s determination to carve out a place for itself outside the EU. The event brought together leaders from 56 countries from India to the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru, a club that covers some 2.5 billion people or about one-third of the world’s population
And the UK’s place within the global trading system was under the spotlight as it enters a post-Brexit world. And that will increasingly take the form of deals with Commonwealth countries – a group that estimate rising trade between its members is expected to hit $2 trillion per year by 2030 after collapsing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is an underappreciated fact that our unique union of nations is buzzing with economic activity,” said UK PM Boris Johnson. “Trade and commerce ties criss-cross continents, greased by shared language and legal systems.”
The Commonwealth contains some of the world’s fastest growing economies and dynamic cities, from Chennai to Cape Town,” he went on. “The new initiatives we are launching today will ensure the UK is at the forefront of seizing opportunities, driving shared growth and prosperity for the benefit of all of our people. I am more optimistic than ever that the people of Africa and every member of the Commonwealth can thrive and prosper through free enterprise.
The summit was notable for the introduction of new Platinum Partnerships to turbocharge UK trade with key Commonwealth countries, as well as five new virtual Centres of Expertise to provide in-depth advice and coaching on green growth, infrastructure, financial services, public finance and trade.
The Prime Minister also confirmed plans to launch the ambitious Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) to replace the Generalised Scheme of Preferences that existed as part of EU membership. The government says that will reduce costs and simplify trading rules for 65 developing countries as well as reducing import tariffs on foodstuffs, clothing and other items by over £750m per year, ‘Benefiting businesses in 18 Commonwealth countries and helping to bring down prices for UK consumers.’
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