LONDON: India and the UK have launched a new toolkit for Commonwealth members to replicate their bilateral Joint Trade Review (JTR) mechanism ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UK this week for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
The JTR toolkit is an instrument developed by the British and Indian governments to understand, through empirical evidence, the existing bilateral trade relationship between two countries and identify any barriers.
A guide to the process has been placed on the newly-launched Commonwealth Innovation Hub for any of the 53 member-countries seeking to improve intra-Commonwealth trade relations.
"The purpose of this guide is to assist other Commonwealth members to design effective Joint Trade Review processes with the aim of strengthening trade relationships and enhancing trade and prosperity across the Commonwealth," a Ministry of Commerce and Industry statement said.
The guide, which will act as a blueprint to encourage trade, follows the completion of the India-UK Joint Trade Review in January this year as part of the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO).
India is the second-largest Commonwealth trading partner for the UK, at 16.3 per cent of total UK Commonwealth trade of around 94.4 billion pounds after Canada's 16.4 per cent.
"Our shared bonds of history, culture language and laws have the potential to increase trade drastically over the coming years, whilst also reducing the cost of doing business between member-countries by up to 19 per cent," said Liam Fox, UK secretary of state for international trade, at the ongoing Commonwealth Business Forum which precedes the CHOGM talks in London later this week.
Following the completion of the UK-India Joint Trade Review early this year at the JETCO in London attended by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, it was agreed that the two sides will follow a roadmap in the identified sectors of mutual interest to facilitate trade across sectors without barriers.
On the UK-side, this will draw on support from regulatory and statistical agencies as well as departmental policy teams to support the Joint UK-India Working Group on trade.
"There is a high degree of flexibility in the design and implementation of Joint Trade Reviews.
This joint trade review guide has drawn upon the emerging lessons from the Joint Trade Reviews between the UK and India and the UK and Brazil," the new Commonwealth JTR guide states.
According to official statistics, the Commonwealth is home to one-third of the world's population, with over 2.4 billion people.
It contains some of the world's fastest-growing economies and accounts for one-fifth of global trade, with the largest Commonwealth members 'India, South Africa, Canada, Australia and the UK' making up a quarter of the G20.
Enhanced intra-Commonwealth trade is at the heart of this week's CHOGM, around the theme of 'Towards a Common Future'.