Commonwealth secretary-general: ‘We will turbo-charge Commonwealth trade advantage’

By on 21/07/2016
Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC

The Commonwealth will “turbo-charge” efforts to increase trade advantages for its 53 member countries, following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland has told parliamentarians.

Giving evidence to the International Relations Committee of the House of Lords in the UK Parliament yesterday, Scotland pledged to “turbo-charge” her efforts to encourage and support Commonwealth countries to work together to increase the 19 per cent trade advantage even further.

She told the committee about initiatives by the Commonwealth Secretariat to help countries make their civil justice systems faster, easier and more efficient to enable trade, including the creation of a Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform, best practice models for contracts and templates for legislation and regulations.

However, she also said that Brexit is causing “real concern” and anxiety in countries which had become used to having a strong voice in the EU through the UK, Malta and Cyprus and stressed that a slow-down in the UK economy and uncertainties in both the UK and the EU will be felt by members who are trade dependent or linked by their currencies to Sterling.

In her exchanges with the parliamentarians, she also said she was “hugely positive” about the commercial and economic opportunities within the Commonwealth: “Much more energy, if that’s possible, will go into enriching the Commonwealth relationship and looking to see how we can strengthen that which we were already doing,” she said.

Pointing to a report published by the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2015 which showed that bilateral trade costs between Commonwealth countries are on average around a fifth lower – or 19 percent – than between other trading partners, she said: “What it does is to identify the benefit of having a shared platform, of the same language, same common law, same legal structure, similar institutions.”

On the prospect of new countries applying to join the Commonwealth, Scotland said: “That’s something which is very warming to know, that the special nature of the relationship that is seen from the outside by people is such that many want to join.

“I do see the Commonwealth as a stabilising, entity at a very difficult time, an anchor for many of countries.”

 

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See also:

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A guide to Brexit, part 3: Who’ll run the negotiations?

A guide to Brexit, part 4: Is Britain’s departure from the EU inevitable?

A guide to Brexit, part 5: What is the likely outcome of Brexit?

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Olly Robbins appointed head of government’s new Brexit unit

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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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