The lunch break is over and the committee resumes on the topic:
“The Question of Trade opportunities and free movement for the Commonwealth post-Brexit”
The delegates are in the process of tackling their working papers, but have moved into a moderated caucus on ‘free movement and skilled trade within the Commonwealth’. The delegates are in agreement that this is a key aspect of trade opportunities that needs to be discussed.
The delegate of Tonga clarified the aim of this caucus: To establish the scope of free movement. Should this be free movement for all? Or just skilled migration? Or patient referral? Or simply for those who can afford to travel?
Singapore is of the view that free movement is unrealistic for the Commonwealth – the Commonwealth are a wide group of nations, and health risks etc. have to be considered when people enter another nation. Each nation has sovereignty to decide who comes into their nations.
New Zealand is largely in agreement, arguing that free movement across the Commonwealth is a dangerous idea, they believe it make it difficult for citizens.
Australia comments on the petition that was formed in May: for visa free movement between Aus, ZL and UK. Thed delegate expresses a desire to expand this to other members of the Commonwealth, but this should be done with caution.
Sierra Leone is very keen for the expansion of free movement. They believe it would provide a viable opportunity for services and industry. They express the fact that Sierra Leone is in need of free movement for their health services, in order to improve the current service. They believe that this could benefit other nations and home nations. This doesn’t necessarily have to be long term, but it’s important in the short term to share skills.
Singapore worries about the regulation of this. The delegate believes it is a significant risk to large communities. They describe the security and health checks that will be required in the process. Sierra Leone responds to this, stating that only skilled people can freely move around the Commonwealth, in order to achieve improvement in certain industries.
The UK brings up the important concept of “brain drain” – the worry that if there is free movement between the Commonwealth, skilled individuals from poor countries will move to richer countries and their important industries will suffer.
Singapore and Malaysia express the need for a healthcare project to share skilled knowledge, rather than opening borders for total free movement. Namibia comments on this idea, stating that freedom of movement doesn’t necessarily mean TOTAL freedom of movement, it refers to improvement. Therefore, there is room for an improved visa programme, allowing citizens to move across the Commonwealth without free movement for everyone.
The delegates have moved into an unmoderated caucus to discuss what has been said and move towards a finished working paper.