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Commonwealth: Trade Discussions

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 8 September 2016

This Department has many valued interactions with Commonwealth partners in support of our aim for the UK to be a global leader in free trade. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently visited India and will co-chair a bilateral trade dialogue there in November. He also recently met the Australian Trade Minister. In addition, several ministerial visits are planned to Commonwealth markets, and the UK will co-host the Commonwealth Trade Ministers meeting next year.

I welcome the Minister’s response. What priority is being placed on negotiating trade deals with Commonwealth countries?

As my hon. Friend will have heard from an earlier question, the Commonwealth is made up of a very diverse set of economies, so there will not be one, single trade negotiation. We are already enjoying excellent trade relationships with our 52 Commonwealth partners and we are committed to strengthening those further. One example of this is that the UK is co-hosting with Malta the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers meeting in London in March 2017, which will be an excellent opportunity to promote greater trade and investment within the Commonwealth.

The Indian company Wockhardt exports from Wrexham pharmaceuticals to the rest of the world, including to the European Union. What comfort can the Minister give that the important regulation that exists in the single market will continue for that company in the post-Brexit world?

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said a little earlier, we are reluctant to give a running commentary on how negotiations and where ideas are going to go, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are incredibly keen to recognise the important contribution to the British economy that international companies are making when they invest in the UK, such as the company he mentions investing from India.