One of the main attractions of investing in the UK is access to the single market of 500 million consumers, and Commonwealth businesses see the UK playing an important role in driving market liberalisation in the EU.
The UK’s membership of the EU brings benefits not just to the British economy through increased trade, but also to Commonwealth countries who have trade deals with the EU and can therefore trade easily with the UK.
The EU has agreed free trade deals with Canada, Singapore and South Africa, and will open negotiations with Australia and New Zealand next year.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Remaining in the European Union and trading with some of our closest Commonwealth allies are not mutually exclusive – they are mutually reinforcing.
“The UK has the best of both worlds by being able to trade easily with nations both from the Commonwealth and from the EU. Our membership of the EU gives us a home market of 500 million customers, while EU trade deals open up new opportunities in markets across the world, including our historic Commonwealth friends.
“European trade agreements currently in progress with Commonwealth nations will give the UK greater access to established and high growth markets. We already do £40 billion of trade with some of the Commonwealth’s largest economies each year1, so by pushing the EU to continue removing current barriers, we can create more jobs and drive growth in the UK. And as part of the EU, trade deals open up the whole single market to our Commonwealth partners.
“Leaving the EU would mean going back to the drawing board. We would have to undertake lengthy negotiations to secure brand new deals, which we know from experience can take many years.
“Having a strong British voice in the European Union is vital to the interests of the Commonwealth. Our shared language, values and laws, along with deep cultural ties make us natural business partners. And there’s no doubt that by being a central stepping stone into the EU, the UK is an even more attractive destination for Commonwealth trade and investment.”