The Isle of Man has signalled its intent to start looking beyond the European Customs Union, of which it is part, following Brexit by becoming a strategic partner of the Commonwealth’s Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC).
As a crown dependent territory, the Isle of Man is not eligible for full Commonwealth membership, though the same restriction applied to the European Union, which the territory circumnavigated by becoming part of the Customs Union. That form of associate EU membership will not be open to the Isle of Man following Brexit.
However, becoming a strategic partner of this Commonwealth-backed intergovernmental body will, Isle of Man chief minister Howard Quayle (pictured left) said in a statement “build on existing business links with Commonwealth members such as South Africa and India and help to open up new opportunities for the island”.
It is not the first crown dependent territory to become a CWEIC strategic partner. Jersey joined the organisation in June 2016, while other governments that have signed on as strategic partners include Malta, Malaysia, Grenada, Malawi and Lesotho.
Speaking to International Investment, CWEIC programmes officer William Carne said that the organisation was not presently “having conversations with” Guernsey or Gibraltar but pointed out that, as well as the crown dependent territories of the Isle of Man and Jersey, the CWEIC had also signed up British overseas territory Turks and Caicos as a strategic partner.
The Commonwealth comprises 52 member states, with a combined population of 2.4 billion, compared to the European Union with a combined population around a quarter of that at 508 million.