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Global 21 fourth quarter 2015

network Colloquia commonwealth Forming a trading bloc Commonwealth member countries share similar legal systems and could offer potential new markets to each other in the same way that the EU does for its members With the 2015 general election in the United Kingdom now over and the possibility of one of the world’s largest global trading players leaving the European Union (EU) trading bloc, there is arguably no better time for the legislature to give consideration to formulating a trading regime with the members of the Commonwealth. Commonwealth nations share much more than just a head of state (bar the few that have become republics). With historical links in law, values and sport (cricket, rugby and football), as well as the high premium placed on democracy, the Commonwealth presents an opportunity for Britain’s businesses to explore new markets for goods and services, with the creation of a Commonwealth Free Trade Area (CFTA). While pursuing a new trading regime with the 53-member organisation ought not to be necessarily seen as a replacement for membership of the EU, creating a new trading regime with the former could lead to goods and services only, and not that of a myriad of economic benefits to the UK. It labour mobility between its members. must be noted that my take on the proposed Sceptics may be tempted to argue Commonwealth project would be for the that the UK has little in common with purpose of a single market for the trade in most other member states due to its 76 l www.global -br ief ing.org four th quar ter 2015 global relatively competitive advantage in technology, legal systems and economic infrastructure, making it challenging to present such a bloc as viable. However, closer inspection would reveal that within the Commonwealth exist a vast number of trading nations with significant capacities to trade with Britain. For example, two BRICS nations, namely India and South Africa, are members of the Commonwealth. The economic giants of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, as well as oil-rich Nigeria, and Trinidad and Tobago; alongside the off-shore financial centres of Barbados, The Bahamas and Malta, plus the many mineral-rich African Commonwealth nations, provide for a solid platform for both economic growth and development. One of the distinct advantages of entering into a new trading arrangement with the Commonwealth for Britain and its business sector is the certainty that common-law jurisdictions based on English law principles bring. Compared with the EU, whose member countries mainly have legal systems based on civil law (versus common law), parties trading in the Commonwealth are Secretariat reaches first half-century This year sees the Commonwealth Secretariat celebrate its 50th birthday. Thursday 25 June marked the 50th anniversary of the day in 1965 on which Arnold Smith assumed office as the first Secretary-General. The decision to establish the Secretariat had been made a year earlier at a meeting of Commonwealth prime ministers in London, to carry forward the suggestion of setting up an impartial, independent, intergovernmental ‘central clearing house’. It was to be “a visible symbol of the spirit of co-operation which animates the Commonwealth” with core values of commitment to racial equality, individual liberty, democratic selfdetermination, eradication of economic inequality, world peace and international co-operation. Kamalesh Sharma, the current and fifth Secretary-General, said: “Since its inception, the Commonwealth Secretariat has had its eyes on the horizon, practical toolkits in hand, and a determination to make a positive difference in the lives of Commonwealth citizens and to add global value. In 2015 such vision and collaboration are even more greatly needed with a larger membership and pressing global challenges. “As a diverse and increasingly connected global network, the Commonwealth brings fresh thinking and practical initiatives. Through co-operation and mutual trust, we are able to sustain and advance yet further the principles around which the Commonwealth unites, and the values we share and seek to uphold now set out with fresh clarity in the Commonwealth Charter.” As the Commonwealth’s principal intergovernmental body, today’s Secretariat provides support on policy making, technical assistance and advisory services to its 53 member states. With a staff drawn from across the Commonwealth – based at Marlborough House in London, with support offices for small states in New York and Geneva – the Secretariat supports member The City of London, the UK’s primary financial district, could benefit from Commonwealth trading links Chad Blackman © Transport for London


Global 21 fourth quarter 2015
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