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Lord Flight was Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2001-2004 and led for the Opposition on the FSMA.  He is now chairman of Flight & Partners Recovery Fund.

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 17.58.09Commonwealth
Exchange (CX) will change your perception. It is a newly established foundation, which will be
launched this Wednesday, to promote the potential of the Commonwealth
and its citizens with a particular focus on trade, education and defence
opportunities. It is headed by a young and energetic team not tainted by old preconceptions;
and it is fortunate to have the author of Common-Trade, Common-Growth,
Common-Wealth
as its Executive Director. The
team has a strong personal and political commitment to help nations trade their
way out of poverty and lend a hand to lift individuals towards economic
prosperity.

As a
member of the CX Advisory Board, I support its efforts because it provides a 21st century opportunity for the Commonwealth. Throughout my working life in
business, which has had strong links with India and other parts of Asia, I know
that in an ever-more competitive world market, only highly flexible and
adaptable global networks will withstand shocks and fast paced change. CX will seek
to deliver this positive vision for the Commonwealth.

Its
mantra is: Technology advances people and
progress,
while its overarching goal is to create a Commonwealth “brand” in
which people can exchange, build upon and prosper. CX believes firmly that the
Commonwealth operates more dynamically between individuals rather than
governments. These linkages bring the diaspora of the Commonwealth together.

Regrettably,
the UK has at times virtually abandoned the Commonwealth.  We have to thank the Queen for keeping
the Commonwealth alive.  With the UK too
preoccupied with its European neighbours, it would be wise and level headed
foreign and economic policy to look further afield towards other economies that
are advancing. CX will advocate for the Commonwealth on these terms.


The Commonwealth is a 54-nation
club that consists of developed, developing, and emerging economies and spans
all habitable continents. English is its lingua franca with common law and a
commitment to democracy its notable features. The combined worth of Commonwealth GDP stands at
$8.4 trillion and growing. Its projected annual total growth is 3.7 per cent and even
higher in Africa and Asia. The Commonwealth also acts as a world time zone –
always trading, always working.

CX’s prime focus is to support small
and medium sized businesses by helping to generate a fertile and welcoming Commonwealth
platform on which they can flourish. CX supports the free market, and a trade
focused, Commonwealth that is currently an untapped and relatively unexplored
area. Its assistance to commerce will be supplemented by a commitment to social
action projects, which will promote greater unity and goodwill across a wide
range of cultural and sporting activities. This will be complemented by rigorous
research programmes into education, entrepreneurship, and defence to bolster
critical thinking about the Commonwealth.

To give a flavour of its far
reaching projects, CX will create trades exchanges, which are quick guides for SMEs looking to export to
Commonwealth nations; it will play a part in the recognition of the
Commonwealth sacrifice during the centenary of WWI; and campaign to give
Commonwealth flags a more permanent home on Parliament Square, outside the
Mother of All Parliaments.

Notwithstanding
this exciting programme, CX will need support and assistance from Conservatives
of all ranks. That is why I welcome the efforts of my colleague, Andrew
Rosindell, who has set up a Conservative Commonwealth
Association
to
help us reach out to what Lord Howell, the Commonwealth Minister 2010-12, calls
"the Commonwealth from within the UK".

CX’s launch
event takes place this Wednesday evening. For those wishing to learn more I
warmly welcome people to contact events@commonwealth-exchange.org to register your place. I also
recommend the Facebook page, following CX on Twitter and
visiting its website. I look
forward to realising the potential of Commonwealth Exchange and I urge
businesses, investors, and philanthropists to back the CX project as I have
done.

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