Bradford businessman and MEP calls for stronger Commonwealth trading links

CALLS: Amjad Bashir

CALLS: Amjad Bashir

First published in News
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , City Hall Reporter

A BRADFORD businessman-turned-politician is calling for Britain's trading links within the Commonwealth to be beefed up.

Amjad Bashir, Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow had showcased the best of the 53-nation alliance.

He is now calling for the UK to strengthen its trading links with Commonwealth countries, as a direct alternative to the EU.

Mr Bashir, a Bradfordian who entered politics after many years in the restaurant business, said up-and-coming economies like India could offer far more to British firms than the “failure” that was the European Union.

He said: “We share history, we share language, we share laws.

“In Australia, South Africa and Canada, their first language is English, and in a lot of other places, like India or Pakistan, English is the second language, so it is very easy for us to trade in these countries.

“A third of the world’s population lives in these countries. Their GDP is growing all the time and is worth several trillion pounds a year.

“This is why we have got to engage with them. They also don’t have such onerous legislation.”

But Mr Bashir made clear he would not want to see the Commonwealth create its own Parliament or create EU-style bureaucracy.

He said: "We don't want another federal idea created in the Commonwealth, as opposed to the EU. That is not what we are about.

"Parliament is sufficient."

Bradford Chamber welcomed the idea of strengthening trading ties with Commonwealth countries.

But its president Paul Mackie said it shouldn't be seen as an "either-or" situation and that withdrawal from the EU could see business opportunities lost.

He said: "While we understand the rationale behind this appeal, I don’t think it’s necessarily something members would share.

"It’s not an either-or situation. Members want to see reform of the EU to reduce the bureaucracy and trading barriers but are concerned that withdrawal, for example, could mean a loss of potential business opportunities.

"Ideally, UK businesses should find it as easy to trade with their counterparts whether in Canada, Croatia or Cambodia and that is something that they want us to push for.

"It’s fair to say, however, that ties with the older countries of the Commonwealth, plus others experiencing rapid economic development, should be maintained or strengthened to maximise business opportunities."

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