Lord Howell on the unique suitability of the modern Commonwealth to trade in the network age
Brexit, March’s Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting and the upcoming Commonwealth Business Forum and Summit in 2018 have led to a heightened interest in Commonwealth trade. Britons wonder how far they can depend on old Commonwealth friends to provide new trading avenues post-Brexit, whilst Commonwealth countries wonder if and how the old network can still be of benefit to them. On the judgement of Lord Howell of Guildford, former Commonwealth Minister and President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, there is much to be optimistic about.
Lord Howell’s case is based around a view of international trade that has moved on from seeing its key mover as only nation states and big bureaucracies. In age of mass, instant communications where data flows and knowledge services are worth as much as trade in goods – and can be moved without concern for distance – world trade is now much more fluid and network dependant.
More by luck than judgement, says Lord Howell, the Commonwealth, with its shared linguistic and cultural links, has emerged as the ideal platform for this type of connectivity. For services based economies in particular (e.g. Singapore’s is 75% service based), the opportunities are huge. One only needs to consider how the City of London’s financial services sector has spread itself around the world to see how the same can apply to other sectors in other countries with the Commonwealth’s facilitative influence. Full Story