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Commonwealth Countries

Volume 712: debated on Tuesday 26 April 2022

8. What diplomatic steps she is taking to strengthen relationships with Commonwealth countries. (906609)

I am terribly sorry, Mr Speaker; I could not hear my colleague over the noise in the House. The UK has been an energetic Commonwealth chair in office, working to strengthen collaboration and co-ordination right across our Commonwealth family, including on recovery from covid, trade, investment and climate. Last week, as we have been discussing, the Prime Minister visited India. The Foreign Secretary has also visited India as well as Australia. I have visited South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Eswatini, and if I were to tell hon. Members where Lord Ahmad has been, we would be here until tomorrow.

I thank my hon. Friend for her answer—I am normally heard wherever I go. With the recent royal tour of the Caribbean and the Prime Minister’s visit to India in mind, does she agree that, in this post-Brexit world, we should make the strengthening of the Commonwealth—that great family of democracies—a top priority?

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend and Essex neighbour about the importance of the Commonwealth. We are committed to deepening our ties with all Commonwealth countries, including on trade. We have already signed free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand and we look forward to concluding one with India this year. We have got economic partnerships with 27 Commonwealth countries. We are working closely with many Commonwealth partners on global challenges such as climate and health, underpinned by over half a billion pounds of international investment. Members of the Government are deeply looking forward to attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, in June.