Common bond ties the economies of The Commonwealth of Nations together.

The major economic players of India, Nigeria, Canada, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, South Africa, Australia and forty five independent countries are all members of The Commonwealth of Nations. Taken together they account for one third of the world’s population, twenty percent of the earth’s landmass, and one eighth of global GDP. They are predominately former members of the British Empire who have chosen to maintain their economic and political ties following independence in the form of an intergovernmental organizations. Common language, shared history, and deep-rooted global supply chains unite members of The Commonwealth.

Foundation of The Commonwealth

During the period of decolonization after World War II the United Kingdom pursued a strategy of guided independence. Under this policy, Britain offered no resistance of eventual independence for those nations who sought it. As part of this process they would work with the key stakeholders in the soon-to-be new nations to ensure that the primary components of stable governance were in place before Britain handed over the keys. The British form of decolonization, preserving goodwill with its clear road to independence and benchmarks along the way, helped them avoid the liberation wars like the French fought in Algeria and Indochina, and the Portuguese faced in Angola and Mozambique.

The purpose of The Commonwealth of Nations is to provide ongoing mutual political and economic support to countries post-independence. Each new nations has taken up the opportunity to join the organizations, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of The Commonwealth. Countries who choose to retain the Queen as their sovereign (e.g. Canada, New Zealand), anoint a new monarch (e.g. Brunei, Swaziland), or become a republic (e.g. India, Ghana) were all able to join. The members have worked to evolve the role of the United Kingdom from colonial master to an equal member as the other fifty two countries, not a role of first among equals.

In 1991 The Commonwealth adopted the Harare Declaration to form a mutual commitment to promote democracy, individual liberty, and free market principles. The Harare Declaration is analogous to the Copenhagen Criteria in the European Union by supporting common values and has be used to penalize wayward members. They have isolated and suspended members, applying a bloc of international pressure to The Gambia and Zimbabwe for single party rule, Pakistan regarding military coups, and South Africa to end apartheid.

Driver of Trade

Commonwealth member states commonly offer a special path to citizenship among one another. This gives more developed economies access to a labor pool, and is a major contributing reason to the large West Indian, Pakistani, and Cypriot populations in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Once every two years there is the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which functions like the G-7 or G-20 for The Commonwealth of Nations. The meeting is an opportunity for countries to economic matters, resolve disputes, form bilateral trade agreements. The most recent meeting was in April 2018 in the United Kingdom, and they determined that trade between Commonwealth members is expected to grow by at least 17% in the next two years as Britain’s turn away from Europe with Brexit.

Grasping the structural supply chain and socio-political environment is critical to understanding  the business-to-business space in any of the major or developing economies in The Commonwealth of Nations.



-Ian Shirt