Indian businesses hope to use the opportunity of the Commonwealth discussions in London to grow trilateral trade between India, Britain and Africa. As the Commonwealth Business Forum focussed on driving intra-Commonwealth trade and investment concluded ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the CII sought to forge stronger ties with Africa, through a partnership with Britain.

“We see an action agenda emanating out of the Commonwealth including the UK and India working with Africa,” said CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee at an event on Tuesday, highlighting the potential for cooperation in education and skills, agriculture, energy and climate change as the “big banner” issues they hoped to focus on.

High Commissioner YK Sinha said he believed there were opportunities for the UK and India to work together with Africa such as on opportunities for financing infrastructure projects in Africa, as India had done with Masala Bonds in London. “We need to find commonalities between our countries. This initiative to see how they can work together particularly relating to CHOGM is timely.”

Hopes are high that CHOGM and the business forum could help spur intra-Commonwealth trade from around $525 billion in 2015, to around $700 billion, playing on what a trade review concluded was a “Commonwealth advantage” that made the costs of doing business with other members of the community 19 per cent less costly than non-members. Over the past few days, leaders, including Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, have sought to portray the Commonwealth as a bastion against rising protectionist sentiment globally. “It is…an opportunity for the Commonwealth to demonstrate its ability to respond to these challenges and set the shape and pace of global trade policy…,” she said on Tuesday.

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