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News > World

Amid Brexit Panic, Britain Seeks Trade Deals, Agreements With Former Colonies

  • Leaders and representatives of Caribbean countries attend a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street in London April 17, 2018.

    Leaders and representatives of Caribbean countries attend a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street in London April 17, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 April 2018

Britain is seeking to make trade deals with its former colonies some of which it denied the much-needed disaster relief.

With Britain inching towards an exit from the European Union next March, the former colonizer is seeking to establish trade deals and agreements, with the now independent colonies it had shunned for decades.

5 Ways the British Empire Ruthlessly Exploited India

The Commonwealth countries have become suddenly more relevant to the former "Empire" as the British royal, including Queen Elizabeth II and Princes William and Harry, are seeking to woo the over 50 Commonwealth countries, which will attend the biennial Commonwealth Summit, in the United Kingdom starting Thursday. 

The Commonwealth leaders are expected to talk primarily about the trade deals with the United Kingdom over the two-day summit. 

Critics have argued the renewed importance of the Summit is a direct response to the U.K.'s exit from the European Union's single market and economy.

"Britain is going to desperately need export opportunities," said Professor Alan Winters, director of the U.K. Trade Policy Observatory. "If they’re not exporting to Mexico or Korea or anywhere else, then it could be to a Commonwealth country." 

It's important to note that Britain is seeking to make potential trade deals with its former colonies, which it denied the much-needed disaster relief needed for their rebuilding processes.

"The 2017 hurricane season was one of the most devastating in Caribbean history. In Barbuda and Dominica, destruction totaled more than twice annual GDP. The growing severity of hurricanes in the Caribbean is related to climate change, a major global threat primarily caused by countries far richer and larger than our own," a letter by Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, along with Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada noted. 

The Caribbean region is facing a crisis brought forth by the climate change, a significant global threat caused by countries with more resources. 

At 2.4 billion, the Commonwealth accounts for nearly a third of the world’s population, with the countries ranging in size from India (1.26 billion people) to Tuvalu (100,000).   

Commonwealth nations hold rights to nearly 78 percent of the world’s seas.

"Businesses are uninterested in politics. They want commercial predictability," Paul Hardy, Brexit director at law firm DLA Piper, told the Bloomberg News. “Those who have spent a lot of money on it are ready to deal with it." 

Richard Burge, chief executive of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, told the CNBC News, that since the Commonwealth has a younger age profile compared to the global average, it is bound to have a high economic growth rate.  

Last week, British minister Tariq Ahmad told a committee of lawmakers that the summit would provide "huge opportunity" to advance deals as it follows its negotiations with the E.U. drag on toward the exit deadline of March 2019.   

The Commonwealth nations, like India and Pakistan, already have access to the E.U. market through Britain’s membership, the secretariat’s trade adviser, Teddy Soobramanien, said. And once Britain departs from the E.U., maintaining that access would be a top priority before reaching any new trade deals. 

Britain's long, odious legacy of imperialist fervor has not only impacted the Caribbean, as it left many of its former colonies economically defunct. India which was once a major exporter of finished products became an importer of British goods as its world share of exports fell from 27 percent to 2 percent.  

At the beginning of the 18th century, India's share of the world economy was 23 percent, as significant as all of Europe put together, but by the time India gained Independence in 1947, it had dropped to less than 4 percent, according to the BBC. 

Currently, intra-Commonwealth trade stands at around US$560-billion annually. That’s expected to rise to US$1-trillion by 2020 and could go higher if Brexit leads to more deal, the Globe and Mail reported.

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