UK's Johnson eyes Commonwealth trade boost

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will praise the benefits of free trade between Commonwealth countries on a visit to Rwanda as he proposes a new system for boosting commerce.

A year-and-a-half after Britain left the European Union, Johnson is looking to boost trade with the 54-nation Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth, headed by Queen Elizabeth, is not a formal trading bloc with a free-trade agreement.

But the network includes about a third of the world's population and some of its fastest-growing economies.

A day before the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting begins in Kigali on Friday, Johnson will say he wants to start a new trade system to reduce costs and simplify rules for 65 developing countries, including many in the Commonwealth.

This will reduce tariffs on food, clothes and other items by Stg 750 million ($A1.3 billion) a year, he will say.

The new system would see Britain replace the European Union's Generalised System of Preferences, which applies import duties at reduced rates, with what will be known as the Developing Countries Trading Scheme.

"It is an under-appreciated fact that our unique union of nations is buzzing with economic activity," Johnson will say.

"The new initiatives we are launching today will ensure the UK is at the forefront of seizing opportunities, driving shared growth and prosperity for the benefit of all of our people."

Earlier this year, Britain struck a Stg 120 million ($A213 million) deal with Rwanda to deport asylum seekers to the East African country but the first such flight was halted last week by the European Court of Human Rights.

The scheme has been widely criticised as inhumane.

Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, who is representing the Queen at the summit, privately described the plan as "appalling", according to newspaper reports.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

  • Print this page
  • Copy Link