poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

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Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

1. No.
26
87%
2. Yes
4
13%
 
Total votes: 30

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poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby mr friendly guy » 2017-03-09 09:26pm

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/p ... th/8341952

Brexit may offer opportunities for Australia as Britain shifts focus to former colonies
ANALYSIS
By Europe correspondent James Glenday

There are few institutions quite as peculiar as the Commonwealth.

A coalition of some of the world's "largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries".

Its exact purpose, apart from acting as a reminder of its predecessor the British Empire, has always been loosely defined and many expect it to wither.

But not those behind Brexit.

Some of the orchestrators of last year's historic vote think now is the perfect time to roll back the years.

For them, the Commonwealth is a diamond in the rough.

Trade deals, it's claimed, will be easily done because of the Commonwealth's common language, similar institutions and "familial bonds".

Negotiations will supposedly serve as convenient "test runs" before Britain enters talks with global economic giants like the US and China.

Interestingly, a number of "Brexiteers" see it as a chance to right what they perceive was a historic wrong — the UK's decision to cut Commonwealth trade ties in the 1970s in order to forge a new life inside the European Economic Community.

And that brings us to "Empire 2.0".

Focus shifts to former colonies

This week has played host to the first meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers in London.

With much of the country's recent media cycle dominated by negative stories about Brexit delays, Britain's representative Liam Fox publicised his plans to use the gathering to boost trade ties, particularly with Africa.

He held a fresh round of formal talks with Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, and The Times newspaper has suggested outlines of deals with Australia, New Zealand and maybe even Canada could be sketched out as early as next year.

But the focus on former colonies seems to have irked sceptical British public servants.

They coined the derisive term "Empire 2.0", and its leaking appears to have been an attempt to force their bosses to look further afield.

Many respected economists warn it's laughable to think the Commonwealth could ever replace Britain's access to the EU single market, several countries in Africa are deeply sceptical about the benefits of free trade anyway and the Government's opponents have decried the push as "delusional nonsense".

But for Australia, the mother country's current interest in the Commonwealth could be an advantage.

When it finally leaves the EU, Britain will be keen to ink as many trade deals as quickly as possible to prove itself on the world stage.

The country that ditched us, now really wants us back.

Some officials think it's an opportunity for the Australian Government to negotiate hard and get more of what it wants.


Back in the 1990s, my economic teacher described our trade relationship with the UK as good until "The British did a naughty thing to us." Those were his words, not mine. Basically this naughty thing was prioritised trade to Europe instead of to the commonwealth. Australia eventually sought new trade partners in the form of the US and Japan. Back when I was in high school we sought trade with ASEAN to create another market, or at least the emphasis was on ASEAN in my curriculum. Who would have thought the rise of China would come to dominate our trade now that they are now our largest trading partner easily.

There are certainly opportunities for us to benefit from the UK post Brexit. I just can't imagine the commonwealth able to trade enough to replace the common market. Seriously, the largest commonwealth country aside from the UK in economics term is India, which is smaller than France (3rd largest EU country by GDP nominal) and the second largest is Canada which and then fourth largest EU economy (Italy) and then, us (Australia) which is larger than Spain, the fifth largest EU economy. The next economy is Nigeria, which is smaller than Sweden and comparable to Belgium.

So I am going to vote No in this poll.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Tribble » 2017-03-09 09:40pm

Erm, the Commonwealth can't replace the EU. This is why even though I advocate for an EEA type membership over the current status quo, the current status quo with the EU is still far better than the Hard Brexit being planned.

Even if the UK managed a big free-trade deal with the Commonwealth countries and the USA I doubt that would be anywhere near as good as their trade with Europe, as at this stage the UK's success largely stems from being the financial gateway to the EU.

That's not to say that agreements with the Commonwealth are necessarily bad though.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby mr friendly guy » 2017-03-10 08:09pm

For those who voted yes, could we get their reasoning. I will be interested to hear it.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-03-10 09:06pm

Just to put a bit more out there, as to why I voted 'no...'

The Commonwealth countries of significant size and potential to act as trade partners are not that numerous. Most of the Commonwealth consists of:

1) Other developed nations (the former dominions) that are small in population and already have strong economic ties to nations other than Britain due to the long period of the Commonwealth's decline as a cohesive international 'league,' or

2) Former British colonial possesions ranging from India down to Nauru, which have very little incentive to deal with Britain specifically when they could instead deal with other developed nations.

There is no ready-made substitute for the EU's economic role in British trade.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Zaune » 2017-03-10 10:07pm

I should also add that whatever prospects we had of a deal with India ran into the slight problem that one of the conditions was making it easier for Indian nationals to get long-term visas so they could oversee their investments in the UK. Guess how that went down...
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-03-10 10:13pm

Yeah. Not a lot of Brexit voters who would prefer a wave of Indian immigrants to a wave of Polish immigrants, I imagine.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Zaune » 2017-03-11 05:21am

Indeed. And strangely enough, the Indian negotiators were not terribly sympathetic when told that their money was welcome in England* but their actual people were to be kept out to the fullest extent possible.

* And it's looking increasingly like it really will just be England by the time this is all over; have we had a thread on the election results in Northern Ireland yet?
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Starglider » 2017-03-11 05:42am

Zaune wrote:I should also add that whatever prospects we had of a deal with India ran into the slight problem that one of the conditions was making it easier for Indian nationals to get long-term visas so they could oversee their investments in the UK. Guess how that went down...


You imagine, based on your political fancies and no actual evidence. In reality Indian immigration requirements (and FDI restrictions) are considerably stricter than UK immigration requirements.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby ray245 » 2017-03-11 05:53am

Starglider wrote:
Zaune wrote:I should also add that whatever prospects we had of a deal with India ran into the slight problem that one of the conditions was making it easier for Indian nationals to get long-term visas so they could oversee their investments in the UK. Guess how that went down...


You imagine, based on your political fancies and no actual evidence. In reality Indian immigration requirements (and FDI restrictions) are considerably stricter than UK immigration requirements.


Liberalising Visa restrictions is still going to result in more Indians migrating to the UK than British migrating to India.

Do you think there is a strong appeal for long term migtation to India in Britain?
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Zaune » 2017-03-11 06:53am

Here, have a source: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/20 ... trade-deal


Theresa May’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with India suffered a hammer blow from Delhi as the prime minister prepared to make her first official visit to the country.

A spokesman for India’s minister of external affairs suggested that a policy brought in by May as home secretary restricting the right of Indian students to stay in the UK after graduation could prove to be a block on any progress.

Before her first bilateral visit outside Europe on Sunday, taking 33 business representatives to India, May said she wished to “reboot” the relationship between the two countries. “The UK and India are natural partners – the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy – and together I believe we can achieve great things – delivering jobs and skills, developing new technologies and improving our cities, tackling terrorism and climate change,” she said.
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However the Indian government spokesman, Vikas Swarup, told the Observer that May faced tough questions when she arrived in Delhi on immigration and mobility for Indian students and workers in the UK.

“Indian students and people-to-people relations are important pillars of India-UK ties,” he said. “In the last five years or so, the number of Indian students enrolling in UK universities has gone down by almost 50%; from around 40,000 to about 20,000 now. This has happened because of restrictions on post-study stay in the UK.

“We will continue to raise our concerns regarding mobility with the UK. Mobility of people is closely linked to free flow of finance, goods and services.”

The comments came as the former business secretary, Vince Cable, claimed that May’s relations with India would be a major block to making progress on any UK-India deal. He said: “The chances of them getting anything out of India are pretty remote pending a complete volte-face on immigration and visas.”

The former Liberal Democrat MP said that among a series of policy decisions by the Home Office, May’s refusal to allow greater access to the UK for skilled Indian workers, in particular, “screwed up” chances of an EU-India trade deal. He said: “When I was secretary of state I was involved in trying to negotiate the EU-India trade agreement, which didn’t get very far. This myth has been created that we are not able to make progress on deals because of Wallonia or Slovenia. In this particular case, the problem was Britain.

“May in particular was very obstructive of any attempt to make a genuine generous concession, and that was one of the things that screwed up the negotiation.”

In 2010, when she was home secretary, May scrapped the post-study work visa, which allowed foreign students a two-year work permit in the UK after completing a course at a British university. Indian students now find it difficult even to get internships or part-time work while they study in the UK.

In 2013 May tried to introduce a controversial “visa bond” scheme for foreign students from six African and Asian countries, of which India was the biggest, to prevent “high-risk” students staying in the UK after their work permits expired. The scheme, which was not introduced in the end, caused widespread outrage among Indian students at the time and Cable said it was “remembered” by Indian politicians.

May is travelling to India with 30 British businesses, including small- and medium-sized enterprises from every region of the country. A series of commercial deals were expected to be sealed during the visit, delivering 1,370 UK jobs, Downing Street said.

May and the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, are due to meet on Monday afternoon for more than two hours of talks on trade, investment, defence and security. Downing Street said May wanted to break down existing trade and investment barriers, and secure agreement to talks that would pave the way for a bilateral trade arrangement once the UK had left the EU. The PM will be accompanied by international trade secretary Liam Fox and trade minister Greg Hands.

Before the visit, May said: “This is a partnership about our shared security and shared prosperity. It is a partnership of potential. I intend to harness that potential, rebooting an age-old relationship in this age of opportunity and with that helping to build a better Britain.”

But Shashi Tharoor, chairman of India’s parliamentary standing committee on external affairs, said May’s anti-immigrant policies were “detrimental” to relations between the UK and India.

He said: “I do believe it is as much in Britain’s interests to attract Indian students as it is in India’s interests for our students to study there.

“The Indian government should ask why this is happening, and whether the withdrawal of the welcome mat sends a broader signal, intended or otherwise, to other Indians.”

“The hope and expectation is that most of the students will return to India with enhanced skills and knowledge, whereas emigrants are lost to India altogether, which gives the Indian government no reason to encourage their departure.

“But again, the broader question is whether these anti-immigrant policies signify an anti-Indian stance which would have broader implications for the relations between the two peoples,” he said.


It's from a few months back but I can't find anything more recent, and somehow I doubt the government could make concessions on this one and keep it quiet.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby jwl » 2017-03-12 05:45pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Yeah. Not a lot of Brexit voters who would prefer a wave of Indian immigrants to a wave of Polish immigrants, I imagine.

I think a large part of the problem people who voted to leave the EU because of immigration have with polish immigrants is lack of English language knowledge. The kind of people who would want to move from India to the UK is the cross-section of India where they know English pretty much perfectly, and perhaps as a first language. So Indian immigrants perhaps may not have the same kind of problems for them.

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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-03-12 05:56pm

jwl wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:Yeah. Not a lot of Brexit voters who would prefer a wave of Indian immigrants to a wave of Polish immigrants, I imagine.

I think a large part of the problem people who voted to leave the EU because of immigration have with polish immigrants is lack of English language knowledge. The kind of people who would want to move from India to the UK is the cross-section of India where they know English pretty much perfectly, and perhaps as a first language. So Indian immigrants perhaps may not have the same kind of problems for them.


This is presuming "They don't know English" is anything but code for "They're dirty brown foreigners".
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby mr friendly guy » 2017-03-12 06:23pm

Funny story. My friend who is a doctor from India described how he had to work with Polish doctors who had little English, whereas he spoke perfect english with a very slight accent. He got frustrated with their lack of english skills, so in the end he communicated by taking out a blood tube of the appropriate type (different colour tubes for different blood tests) and pointed to the patient so she took the blood test. Yep, she couldn't understand enough english to take blood. He was amazed that she got ahead of him for a position despite having very little english (most probably because of preference of EU citizens over commonwealth ones). No wonder he came to Australia where we pay doctors better. :D

And before someone goes anecdotal evidence, its not the only case I know of from doctors who worked in the UK at around the early 2000s and came to Australia.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-03-12 06:29pm

Yeah, I'm sure their are a lot of immigrants who don't know much English, and that that annoys and inconveniences some people.

But that also becomes a pretext/code for "They don't belong here/they're not part of "our culture"."
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Zaune » 2017-03-12 07:03pm

mr friendly guy wrote:Funny story. My friend who is a doctor from India described how he had to work with Polish doctors who had little English, whereas he spoke perfect english with a very slight accent. He got frustrated with their lack of english skills, so in the end he communicated by taking out a blood tube of the appropriate type (different colour tubes for different blood tests) and pointed to the patient so she took the blood test. Yep, she couldn't understand enough english to take blood. He was amazed that she got ahead of him for a position despite having very little english (most probably because of preference of EU citizens over commonwealth ones). No wonder he came to Australia where we pay doctors better. :D

And before someone goes anecdotal evidence, its not the only case I know of from doctors who worked in the UK at around the early 2000s and came to Australia.

He's likely at least partly right; workers from other member states can't be forced to go through all the (probably ridiculous and excessive) English language exams a non-EU worker would be.

There's nothing in EU law stopping the NHS putting its applicants through a rigorous spoken and written English exam, but then they'd probably have no staff at all because we reward our nurses for their years-long training and certification process with lousy pay, long hours and management who are more interested in meaningless performance-indicators than quality of real patient care.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby jwl » 2017-03-13 12:05pm

Zaune wrote:
mr friendly guy wrote:Funny story. My friend who is a doctor from India described how he had to work with Polish doctors who had little English, whereas he spoke perfect english with a very slight accent. He got frustrated with their lack of english skills, so in the end he communicated by taking out a blood tube of the appropriate type (different colour tubes for different blood tests) and pointed to the patient so she took the blood test. Yep, she couldn't understand enough english to take blood. He was amazed that she got ahead of him for a position despite having very little english (most probably because of preference of EU citizens over commonwealth ones). No wonder he came to Australia where we pay doctors better. :D

And before someone goes anecdotal evidence, its not the only case I know of from doctors who worked in the UK at around the early 2000s and came to Australia.

He's likely at least partly right; workers from other member states can't be forced to go through all the (probably ridiculous and excessive) English language exams a non-EU worker would be.

There's nothing in EU law stopping the NHS putting its applicants through a rigorous spoken and written English exam, but then they'd probably have no staff at all because we reward our nurses for their years-long training and certification process with lousy pay, long hours and management who are more interested in meaningless performance-indicators than quality of real patient care.

It's not just that, it's also that English is one of the two state languages of India (the other being Hindi) and is widely spoken by buisnessmen there. India doesn't have one universal language like Poland does, so English works. That's not to say the lower social classes in India speak English in the same way, but they are not the kind of people who are likely to move to the UK.

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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby mr friendly guy » 2017-03-13 10:34pm

My totally non expert opinion on the spread of English, is that small European countries where their language is not likely to have widespread use will learn English as a second or third language. For example, Sweden and Finland. Larger countries there is less incentive, eg Poland, France.

Now some of these smaller countries like the Nordic already have a high standard of living. Their GDP / capita is higher than the UK and even European powerhouse Germany. Its comparable to Australia. :wink: (IIRC Sweden and Finland are slightly lower than Australia, Denmark is slightly higher and Norway whoops our arse). So there is less incentive for them to work in the UK even though already knowing English gives them an advantage aside from industries which the UK excel in, eg finance. There is more incentive for citizens of poorer EU nations like Poland to come to the UK due to the economic benefits despite having a poorer grasp of English.

That's my two cents, and hopefully someone more knowledgeable can come and give their opinion as well.
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Re: poll: Can the commonwealth replace the EU for the UK's trade

Postby Civil War Man » 2017-03-17 12:28pm

Voted no. As mentioned in the OP, the Commonwealth is not as big as the EU. And on top of that, it is more geographically spread out and the members are not as physically close to the UK as the EU, so when it comes to trading goods, there are going to be higher shipping costs. But even if all those were equal, the Commonwealth wouldn't be able to fully replace the EU unless the UK were willing to allow free movement among the Commonwealth, when free movement was one of the issues that precipitated the whole Brexit fight in the first place.


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