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Commonwealth members enjoy up to 50% trade advantage

By Joanna Bennett

New research published today by the Royal Commonwealth Society shows that a Commonwealth country's trade with another member is likely to be a third to a half more than with a non-member, even after taking into account other possible contributory factors such as proximity, level of development and language.

The research also reveals that, over the last two decades, the importance of Commonwealth members to each other as sources of imports and destinations for exports has grown by around a quarter and third respectively.

Other key findings include:

- Between them, Commonwealth countries traded around US$4 trillion worth of goods in 2008.

- Intra-Commonwealth trade accounts for about one-sixth of total Commonwealth members' trade, with an average for each member of around one-third.

- The share of intra-Commonwealth trade has grown steadily from around 12 per cent in 1990 to around 16 per cent in 2008.

- The Commonwealth dominates trade in some countries; for example more than four-fifths of Botswana's and Namibia's imports come from other Commonwealth countries; and more than 90 per cent of the exports from Saint Vincent and Samoa go to other Commonwealth countries.

- The value of trade between pairs of Commonwealth member states is between 38 and 50 per cent higher than between pairs of countries where one or both are not Commonwealthmembers, controlling for other factors.

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Director of the RCS, said:“The Commonwealth may be best known for its Games, but it seems to be delivering some serious Gains on the trade front. Though founded on shared political bonds, the Commonwealth's future may lie in promoting economic ties. ”

Robert Alston, Past Master of the World Traders Company, said: “The Company welcomes this opportunity to help to raise awareness of the benefits of trade among the members of the Commonwealth.”