The British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke enthusiastically about the opportunities provided by the Commonwealth during a landmark speech on the British Government’s plans for Brexit.
Speaking at Lancaster House, London, Mrs May said, “I want us to be a truly Global Britain… A country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.
“Even now as we prepare to leave the EU, we are planning for the next biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2018 – a reminder of our unique and proud global relationships.”
The next Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting is to be held in the UK with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in attendance. Heads of state and senior officials from all of the 52 counties which make up the Commonwealth will be invited.
Throughout the much anticipated speech, the prime minister announced intentions to lead Britain to a single market with significantly increased trade between Britain and both the remaining EU members and countries outside Europe. She expressed her focus to build free trade agreements between Britain and emerging global superpowers, including some Commonwealth nations.
She said, “We want to get out into the wider world, to trade and do business all around the globe. We have started discussions on future trade ties with countries like Australia, New Zealand and India.”
At the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting taking place in March, trade opportunities post-Brexit will be high on the agenda. Ministers for economy, trade and industry from across the Commonwealth are expected to attend.
The Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, welcomed Mrs May’s recognition of trade opportunities with Commonwealth nations. She said, “Countries like India, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Jamaica and Sri Lanka have already asked the Secretariat to undertake a detailed analysis of the trade opportunities which may arise post-Brexit and the ways in which they can deepen their trading engagement with the UK.
The meeting of trade ministers in March will explore the existing opportunities within the Commonwealth and ways in which we can strengthen intra-Commonwealth networks, improve the way we trade and provide mutual support to boost competitiveness of our nations. Our research shows that when both partners are Commonwealth members, trade costs between them are 19 percentage points lower than other country pairs.”