The WeekLI

The WeekLI



Commonwealth trade policy has the potential to lift people out of poverty and into prosperity.

Earlier this month, the Commonwealth Trade Ministers met in London for the first meeting of its kind since the 1930s. Shanker Singham, Chairman of the Legatum Institute’s Special Trade Commission, delivered a speech putting forward innovative recommendations to re-energise Commonwealth trade policy.

While the road ahead could be challenging, Shanker highlighted the vast opportunities for Commonwealth members to lead, learn from each other’s differences, and set out a global vision and standard which could lift people out of poverty and into prosperity.

Shanker said that in order to achieve this, the Commonwealth must prioritise open trade, competition on merit, and the protection of property rights. He emphasised that UK trade policy should ensure UK domestic laws promote competition in the marketplace, establish new bilateral agreements which were previously negotiated by the EU, create a prosperity zone with like-minded countries, and improve the UK’s position within the World Trade Organization.

Read the full speech here


As a citizen of the Commonwealth, you are more likely to enjoy higher levels of prosperity than if you live in a comparable non-Commonwealth nation.

Read more

Across the world, the Legatum Prosperity Index™ captures the notable “Commonwealth Effect”. This refers to the greater prosperity experienced by people in Commonwealth countries compared with the global average.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK deliver greater prosperity than any comparable bloc. This includes the Nordic area and Western Europe. In Africa, the Index covers 40 countries, of which 17 are Commonwealth members. Together, these members outperform the sub-Saharan average for prosperity in each of the nine sub-indexes.

This additional prosperity comes from freer markets, freer peoples with greater opportunity and, most importantly, stronger civil society.


Matthew Elliott analyses the Dutch election and considers whether the rise of populism will continue into 2017.

2016 delivered two major political shocks to the West with profound global consequences: first the decision by British voters to leave the European Union and then the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. These two events can be seen in a broader context that some are referring to as the ‘rise of populism’.


Ahead of the Dutch general election last week, our new Senior Fellow Matthew Elliott, produced a brief guide to the election which includes an analysis of the similarities and differences between Geert Wilders and the Freedom Party, to the Brexit and Trump phenomena in 2016.

This report into the ‘rise of populism’ builds on the Legatum Institute’s report, 48:52: Healing a Divided Britain.  Matthew argues that, “it would be a mistake to assume that anyone who was pro-Brexit, is automatically pro-Trump, pro-Wilders or in favour of other countries leaving the EU. But while there are clear distinctions, international economic changes and global shifts in social attitudes point to some important similarities.” Using data from the Legatum Prosperity Index™, the OECD, and Gallup, this report examines the economic, social and political similarities between the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

Following the Dutch election result, Matthew produced a short report providing immediate post-election analysis. A longer paper will be published later this year with a more considered analysis of the voting patterns and the new coalition government.

Read the two reports here

Listen to Matthew’s interview on the Dutch election


If seeing Scotland flourish is the goal, then nationalists are currently best off fighting to save the Union. An independent Scotland would rank 18th in the global Prosperity Index, while the remaining UK would rise from 10th to 7th.

Read the latest report

To ensure prosperity, Scottish nationalists should be fighting for the Union.

With the SNP pursuing a second referendum, public debate is repeating the economic and nationalistic arguments of the last vote: if Scotland were to leave the UK, it could be as prosperous as index-topping Norway or New Zealand.

These arguments ignore the fact that true prosperity is about far more than just GDP. The Legatum Prosperity Index™ suggests that Scottish prosperity − both economic and social progress − is not best served by independence.

The UK Prosperity Index shows that Scotland enjoys around 96% of UK average prosperity. This 4% deficit widens to 20% in key engines of prosperity growth: business environment, education, and health. Not only does this undermine the potential of an independent Scotland’s social prosperity, but its economic success too.

The Index also debunks the myth of the oil dividend. There is no relationship between resource rents and prosperity. The North Sea cannot save Scotland.


Future free trade deals, the challenges and opportunities for trade in a post-Brexit world, and improving trade through exporting were all topics of discussion at the recent Legatum Institute Business Forumnlunch with guest speaker Greg Hands MP, Minister of State in the Department for International Trade.

The Business Forum is a platform for businesses who wish to engage constructively and proactively in policy discussions around economic growth and social wellbeing. Hosted monthly, these round tables are member-only discussions with influential policy-makers and experts which enable constructive conversation about important, topical issues.

For more information about the Business Forum please contact:


“The Business Forum regularly attracts top political speakers and creates an environment in which business can engage in meaningful and constructive policy dialogue – I never leave a session without fresh insight and new contacts.”

Ólöf Jónsdóttir, Head of Public Affairs for Rockwool Ltd


On Wednesday 26 April, the Prosperity UK Conference will bring together leading policy makers, politicians, academics and businesses to chart the course for the UK once it departs from the European Union.

We spoke with board members, Sir Paul Marshall and Lord Hill of Oareford, and asked them why it’s important to have this discussion now.

The Legatum Institute is partnering with Prosperity UK to deliver this conference.


Cristina Odone writes in CapX that Italians may live longer but they don’t all prosper READ HERE

Shanker Singham writes in City A.M. that a ‘deal or no deal’ Brexit rhetoric is not helpful READ HERE

Shanker Singham was interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on the prospects for the UK following Brexit LISTEN HERE

Harriet Maltby writes in CapX, that Scotland’s prosperity depends on the Union READ HERE

In an interview with City A.M. Shanker Singham says Brexit is an opportunity to put Britain at the heart of a global trade revolution READ HERE

Following his analysis of the Dutch elections, Matthew Elliott was interviewed by Sky News on the election results, Brexit and the rise of populism WATCH HERE

Matthew Elliott was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Up All Night following the Dutch election results LISTEN HERE

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