UK Prime Minister May defends free trade

UK Prime Minister May defends free trade

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British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Business Forum Opening Session on the first day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018

“While we should be unapologetic in our support for free and inclusive trade, we should also work hand-in-hand with businesses to make it more efficient (and) more effective,” she said.

“Playing fields can be leveled, barriers removed, the benefits opened up to all… The challenges posed by protectionism are all too clear.”

The Commonwealth is a 53-nation bloc consisting of the U.K. and its former colonies, including India, Canada, Singapore and Nigeria. It encompasses 2.4 billion people and in 2017 had a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $10.4 trillion.

Some groups have proposed that increasing trade with the Commonwealth is an important option for the future of the U.K. after it leaves the European Union.

Currently, the Commonwealth accounts for a small part of U.K. trade. Roughly 9 percent of total U.K. exports went to the Commonwealth in 2016, dwarfed by the 43 percent that went to the EU.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth provided around 8 percent of the U.K.’s imports, roughly the same as those coming into the U.K. from China.

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