Alderman The Lord Mountevans, Maritime UK Vice Chair, called for increased trade between UK and Commonwealth countries at the Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting (CHOGM).
Maritime UK brings together the UK’s shipping, ports, services, engineering and leisure marine industries to promote the sector, influence government and drive growth. They support just under 1 million jobs and contribute around £40bn to UK GDP
Lord Mountevans, who addressed the Commonwealth Business Forum, said: “Today the Commonwealth is a modern and dynamic network of peoples. Half of the top 20 emerging global cities are in the Commonwealth and the family of nations is home to one third of the world’s population. The Commonwealth, therefore, is a network with huge potential.
“Never has there been a greater focus on trade. Talk of trade wars and tariffs, coupled with Brexit, means that we’re talking about trade once again.
“Huge untapped trading opportunities do exist within the Commonwealth. Research has calculated a unique “Commonwealth advantage”, which translates into lower trading costs between two countries that are Commonwealth members.
“This work implies that trade between Commonwealth members can increase by many times. Analysis presented in Commonwealth Trade Review 2015 shows that, even in the absence of any coordinated policy measures, there was the potential of additional exports of $156 billion, or 34 per cent of current intra-Commonwealth exports.
“Trade is also the best way of countries developing, so developed countries have an obligation to support those countries. By doing so we strengthen relationships, increase people to people links and collectively become richer in so many ways.
Lord Mountevans also spoke on the importance of the ‘blue economy’, and the vast uncharted underwater empire that exists beneath our seas. As much as 95% of the world’s oceans and 99% of the ocean floor remain unexplored, and represent a huge economic opportunity in UK territorial waters.
He said: “We know there are geographical curiosities in our seas, such as salty, brine-filled pockets in the deep that form underwater ‘rivers’ and ‘lakes’, and we know there are large deposits of valuable minerals waiting to be found.
“While we look to the stars and imagine what lies out there in the cosmos, there is a vast uncharted empire under water. But our investigation of the deep is not only about the extraction of resources or the laying of cables. It’s also about developing a better understanding of our underwater world so we can help protect and safeguard our planet’s future
Following last week’s historic agreement at IMO to reduce carbon emissions, he said: “Just last week at the IMO, here in London, member states agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 50%. Having set that challenge, the task of delivering that reduction must be shared by those across maritime and the broader blue economy. Low carbon technologies must be developed to meet that challenge, and no one country will be able to do it alone.
“From a UK perspective, we are working on a sector deal as part of government’s industrial strategy to position ourselves to capitalise upon this regulatory challenge. But it’s critical to say, we cannot do this alone. Yes, there are huge opportunities, but to realise them, we must work together. And for reasons explained previously, there is a natural advantage in doing so with Commonwealth partners.”