Vale of Clwyd MP, Dr James Davies, is keen to see the United Kingdom build on its Commonwealth links. As Trade Ministers from across the Commonwealth prepare to meet in London in early March, in preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018, he asked questions in Parliament this week about how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will maximise the potential of the meetings.
The objective of the talks is to reaffirm the commitment of Commonwealth member countries to a transparent free and fair multilateral trading system and a more ambitious growth agenda. Dr Davies’s questioned what steps would be taken to strengthen UK relations with other Commonwealth countries and followed up with a further question about the Trade Ministers meeting.
Commenting James said, “I questioned the Minister about our plans for the talks. With the move to Brexit it is vital we build on the Commonwealth, encouraging more trade between our nations and more shared growth. At the moment there is no inter-governmental coordination to help unlock the trade and investment potential of the Commonwealth so everything must be done to seize the opportunities that stemmed from initial talks in Malta, in November 2015, to develop new trading relationships through the Trade Ministers meeting and the Heads of Government meeting”.
In reply to FCO oral questions in the House, Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said, “We should not forget that the network of 52 states is very important to Great Britain. It has a combined population of 2.2 billion people, including 1 billion people under the age of 25. In the post-Brexit environment, we are looking for trade deals. When we travel across Africa and indeed the Commonwealth in general, the first question that is asked is, ‘What are the opportunities for Britain, now that you are liberated from doing business through Brussels?’. The ministerial meeting that is coming up is a great opportunity for us to embark on looking towards the trade deals that we need for the future”.
The meetings this year and next year are seeking to establish new trading relationships building on a combined economy of more than $10 trillion and annual GDP growth in excess of 4%. The Commonwealth provides a platform for achieving these aims, referred to as the “Commonwealth Factor”, through shared values, language, institutions and similar legal systems.