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Trade and Diplomatic Connections: UK/Commonwealth

Volume 613: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2016

10. What steps the Government are taking to promote trade and diplomatic connections between the UK and other Commonwealth countries. (905817)

We have eight Commonwealth trade envoys representing British business interests in 10 Commonwealth states. We have expanded the British Government’s representation in a number of countries, and we are looking forward to the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers meeting in London in March next year, which will be co-hosted by ourselves and the Government of Malta.

With the decision to withdraw from the EU, many British companies will be looking to expand their business with Commonwealth countries. What specific plans do the Government have to support them in that respect?

That is something we are concentrating on. Intra-Commonwealth trade is estimated at over $680 billion, and it is projected to surpass $1 trillion by 2020. The Commonwealth includes 53 member states, a quarter of the world’s land mass and 2.2 billion people, and 60% of the Commonwealth’s population is under the age of 30, so there are some huge and exciting opportunities there.

17. Now that we have this wonderful opportunity to boost trade with the Commonwealth, will my right hon. Friend make sure that small countries in Africa and Asia are not left behind in what I believe will be a trade bonanza? (905824)

I hope my hon. Friend is right. It is worth remembering that three quarters of UK-Commonwealth trade is with India, Australia, Canada, Singapore, South Africa and Malaysia, so we do need to expand that into some of the Commonwealth countries of Africa.