Trading on Commonwealth Ties

A Review of the Structure of Commonwealth Trade and the Scope for Developing Linkages and Trade in the Commonwealth

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What are the characteristics of current intraCommonwealth trade, and how can it be encouraged to grow?

Trading on Commonwealth Ties identifies opportunities for stimulating trade within the Commonwealth, but warns against setting up a free trade agreement across the member states. Chris Milner argues that while the idea of trying to build a Commonwealth free trade agreement may hold enormous appeal, it is fraught with legal, administrative and political difficulties. He identifies improving trade infrastructure – particularly roads, railways and port facilities – as a key means of lowering trading costs and boosting trade both within the Commonwealth and with nonCommonwealth countries.

IntraCommonwealth trade currently generates about US$225 billion a year in export trade for member countries, which is equivalent to about 16 per cent of Commonwealth countries’ total exports. This is a substantial volume of trading activity, but overall the bulk of Commonwealth countries’ trade is with countries outside the Commonwealth. Nonetheless, for some countries, like Botswana, Namibia, Papua New Guinea and Samoa, intraCommonwealth trade remains significant as it represents in excess of 70 per cent of their international trade.

This book will be of interest to economic planners, researchers and policymakers in all Commonwealth countries.




With one quarter of the world's governments, one third of the world's population and one fifth of global trade, the Commonwealth is a diverse community of nations sharing an inheritance of a common language, institutions and culture. It brings together a unique range of countries, comprising rich and poor, large and small, as well as island, landlocked and coastal states. The association boasts the ‘Commonwealth culture’ of amicable partnership, in which activities are conducted in an atmosphere of co-operation and with a shared sense of community, reflecting its members' common traditions and shared values; this culture has inspired a high level of engagement among Commonwealth members.


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