The Commonwealth gets its day in parliament

Strengthening Commonwealth trade will be debated this Wednesday in Westminster Hall

by Tim Hewish on 10 December 2012 17:24

Building on our extensive work promoting the Commonwealth I am delighted that Andrew Rosindell MP has secured a Parliamentary debate into increased trade with the Commonwealth. It will take place this Wednesday, December 12th, from 9.30am to 11am in Parliament’s second chamber – Westminster Hall. It will hopefully be televised live on Parliament TV’s website, and in any event, the video will be uploaded to their site like the usual Hansard transcript the following day. Members of the public are welcome to attend and I urge readers to come along and support us.

What is of importance is that the Commonwealth is beginning to be discussed on terms such as trade, investment, free markets, prosperity, and economic growth. The Minister will have to address the notion of trade head on and reply to the specific questions put to him by MPs. There is no option for sidestepping the issue.

As I have continually said, this isn’t about forging an alternative to our trade with European nations. It is about augmentation of our current trade with European nations, balancing the UK’s trade deficits, and importantly helping developing countries trade their way out of poverty using the Commonwealth as a vehicle.

At a time when the UK’s exports are shrinking to both the Eurozone and the rest of the world there has to be much more energy transferred into resources that can stimulate growth through human agency, not government spending.

I urge the Government to listen carefully to Wednesday’s debate and what its backbenchers will say as well as the recommendations in Common-Trade, Common-Growth, Common-Wealth. A number of suggestions will be given to help the UK formulate a plan to revitalise the Commonwealth. For instance, I call for the creation of a Commonwealth Trade Minister, a Business Visa, an Investment & Development Bank, and Business Scholarships to name but a few. Many more will be mentioned.

But this is also an opportunity to listen to the answers given by the Minister on behalf of the Government, as it will allow Commonwealth supporters worldwide to have a previously unknown understanding of Government thinking on the issue. I also want the debate to be a catalyst for other Commonwealth governments to comprehend the Commonwealth in trade terminologies. For nations that share the same language we do not often translate calls for improved trade equally.

What is fundamental is that this should be about dialogue with neither side remaining deaf to each other. All those interested in the Commonwealth and its future want to work towards an enhanced and enriched club; what is up for grabs is the political and economic direction it takes. I sincerely hope that this debate plots out an initial course. I don’t claim to have the complete charter for success, as there are chopping waters to navigate in 2013 with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka being the most notable on the horizon.

Despite this, it is our duty to make sure that sun never sets on such a promising vision of the Commonwealth: its capacity for trade. 

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