In the past two weeks, I have been helping prepare a speech for our director at the IEA, Mark Littlewood, to present at the Cook Society meeting.
I was privileged to also be invited to the luncheon. The Cook Society was founded in 1969 by Prime Ministers Sir Alec Douglas Home and Sir Robert Menzies. The club is a spin off of The Britain-Australia Society and only consists of a hundred members including the Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer.
The meeting’s focus was on trading opportunities between UK and the other 52 Commonwealth countries but foremost, building UK-Australia relationship. In 2004, Commonwealth of Nations surpassed EU trading bloc winning the bigger share of World GDP and current trends depict a bigger, similar gap in the future.
IMF estimated EU GDP growth of 1.6% is slower than advanced economies average of 1.9% The UK is the fourth most important Commonwealth export market after USA, China and Japan. Intra trading between Commonwealth countries is 19 per cent cheaper than non-members as a result of shared history, cultural links, common legal systems and business practices.
Current Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) increases annual British grocery bills by roughly around 3-7 per cent. If the UK is to trade with Commonwealth of Nations, especially among the least developed countries, domestic consumers will witness an immediate drop in living expenses despite a depreciated pound.
For example, there will be up to 20 per cent drop in price of New Zealand wine. Other opportunities include an expansion of the UK Scotch Whiskey industry into India, which accounts for 25 per cent of UK’s total food and drinks export, once a tariff of 150% is removed.
Beside trade-only deals, the UK should look forward to a possible Commonwealth Immigration Policy. The UK should improve the freedom of movement with allies that would assimilate well into their culture. Such countries include Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand share the same head of state, the same common law system, the same Western culture, the same respect for democracy, and the English language. In short term, UK government should seek to reform Tier 2 visa system making it easier for Commonwealth citizens to gain employment in the UK and do not have to travel home to change jobs.
Questions were raised as whether Australia or other Commonwealth nations hold resentment against the UK when it joined European Union in 1973. High Commissioner Alexander Downer answered Australia will do whatever it can do to benefit Australia.
Beside meeting with Mr Downer, I’ve also met and talked to many intellectual individuals including a neurosurgeon, professors, retired CEOs and investment bankers with vast amounts of wisdom to share along with stories of their children and grandchildren.
On the weekend, I had the chance to visit the British museum. Real mummies on display and the 19th century collection were my absolute favourite attractions. Visiting a history museum reminded me that we all owe something to this Earth and to the work of our ancestors.
Our time is limited but if we work hard to invent and leave a good story behind like they did, it will pass on to inspire others and connect to a later generation beyond our imagination. That’s a wrap for the week. See you all again.
Writing from London with love,