|National flags fly outside Queen Elizabeth Tower in London, UK (photo: Helaine Chardon)|
Written by James SkinnerHowever, one question we are consistently asked by supporters and critics is, why just these 4 countries?
The Commonwealth (officially known as “The Commonwealth of Nations”) was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, and today, consists of 53 member states, covering more than 29,958,050 square kms of the world’s surface, and is home to over 2.3 billion people (nearly a third of the world's population). And yet, our campaign solely refers to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (the “CANZUK” nations).
But what about the other 49 nations?
This is not a simple question to answer, but the argument for keeping our agenda directed at the CANZUK nations (at least for the foreseeable future) can best be explained through analysis of social and economic statistics.
In general, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are more than likely to succeed (and prosper) under mutual economic and social policies due to their similar socio-economic circumstances. The CANZUK nations share the same majority language, the same sovereign (Queen Elizabeth II), the same Westminster style parliamentary system, the same common-law legal system, the same respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and the same westernised culture. As I have said in countless radio and TV interviews, we are virtually the same people with “only the cover of our passports dividing us”.
If the European Union can embrace (and implement) an area of free movement and free trade with over 500 million citizens living in over 30 different member states, all of whom speaking different languages, encompassing different legal systems and embracing different cultures, there is no reason why the CANZUK nations cant also embrace these policies for its citizens.
The World Factbook, updated regularly by the United States Central Intelligence Agency, provides us with statistical data that demonstrates how similar the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are in terms of socio-economic factors, and why mutual policy agreements between these countries would very likely succeed.
Below are the most relevant statistics that apply to free movement, free trade and foreign affairs:
*All monetary data is converted into $US dollars
**All statistics provided from 2015 and accurate at time of entry – February 12th, 2016
English speakers (population): 58.7%
Life expectancy from birth: 81.76 years
Population growth rate: 0.75%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $1.573 trillion
GDP per capita: $45,900
Unemployment rate (of population): 6.9%
Inflation rate: 1.2%
English speakers (population): 76.8%
Life expectancy from birth: 82.15 years
Population growth rate: 1.07%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $1.241 trillion
GDP per capita: $65,400
Unemployment rate (of population): 6.2%
Inflation rate: 1.9%
English speakers (population): 90.2%
Life expectancy from birth: 80.54 years
Population growth rate: 0.54%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $2.865 trillion
GDP per capita: $41,200
Unemployment rate (of population): 5.4%
Inflation rate: 0.1%
English speakers (population): 89.8%
Life expectancy from birth: 81.05 years
Population growth rate: 0.82%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $170.6 billion
GDP per capita: $36,400
Unemployment rate (of population): 5.8%
Inflation rate: 0.7%
Just from the statistics alone (excluding cultural and historical factors), we can see that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom host very similar socio-economic characteristics;
- The English speaking population in each country is very high, meaning that citizens from each country could easily integrate and assimilate into any of the other countries and likely succeed in finding employment, housing, e.t.c.
(Canada’s English speaking population is below 60% as statistics only include native English speakers, not native-French speakers who also speak English);
- Life expectancy in each country is very similar, meaning similar life-style choices and health awareness with access to health care;
- Unemployment rates are also similar yet low, meaning citizens of each country would have high chances of securing employment in the other countries;
- Inflation rates are economically secure, implying stable economies across the CANZUK area and providing adequate circumstances for free trade agreements;
- GDP per capita figures are economically stable, meaning a secure living wage for citizens within the CANZUK area with respect to inflation rates and a high quality of life.
With such similarities, sharing our labour resources and establishing free trade agreements would benefit the CANZUK economies significantly, allowing labour shortages to be filled from willing workers within the CANZUK area and an increased skills pool to advance economic growth and aggregate supply.
By taking these statistics and applying a CANZUK area average, we attain the following results:
CANZUK Area Average
English speakers (population): 78.85% (excluding bi-lingual French-Canadians)
Life expectancy from birth: 81.37 years
Population growth rate: 0.79%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $1.42 trillion
GDP per capita: $47,225
Unemployment rate (of population): 6.0%
Inflation rate: 0.97%
In general, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are the ideal economies to benefit from free movement, free trade and mutual foreign policy, and our shared socio-economic, cultural and historical similarities make the CANZUK initiative a highly-valuable pursuit for the future.
But what about the other 49 nations within the Commonwealth? Are there any other countries within our historical union that could also succeed under a free movement initiative?
|South Africa is frequently inquired by Commonwealth supporters about joining a CANZUK union (photo: Cape Town Airport)|
Over the past year, we have received a lot of correspondence regarding 5 countries in particular who could be considered part of free movement and foreign policy initiatives; South Africa, India, Jamaica, Pakistan and the Bahamas. We have also received queries regarding numerous other nations within (and outside of) the Commonwealth, but the aforementioned five have been the top countries mentioned, and for the purposes of this article, we will use these 5 countries as examples of the numerous issues and significant problems that occur when additional countries are brought into free movement and foreign policy initiatives with the CANZUK area.
Below are the most relevant socio-economic statistics applied to South Africa, India, Jamaica, Pakistan and the Bahamas;
English speakers (population): 9.6%
Life expectancy from birth: 62.34 years
Population growth rate: 1.33%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $317.3 billion
GDP per capita: $13,400
Unemployment rate (of population): 25.9%
Inflation rate: 4.8%
English speakers (population): N/A
Life expectancy from birth: 68.13 years
Population growth rate: 1.22%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $2.183 trillion
GDP per capita: $6,300
Unemployment rate (of population): 7.1%
Inflation rate: 5.6%
English speakers (population): N/A
Life expectancy from birth: 73.55 years
Population growth rate: 0.68%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $13.82 billion
GDP per capita: $8,800
Unemployment rate (of population): 14%
Inflation rate: 4.2%
English speakers (population): Less than 8%
Life expectancy from birth: 67.39 years
Population growth rate: 1.46%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $247.8 billion
GDP per capita: $4,900
Unemployment rate (of population): 6.5%
Inflation rate: 4.5%
English speakers (population): N/A
Life expectancy from birth: 72.2 years
Population growth rate: 0.85%
GDP (Official exchange rate): $8.884 billion
GDP per capita: $25,600
Unemployment rate (of population): 15%
Inflation rate: 1.8%
From correspondence received, South Africa has been the country most questioned with respect to joining a free movement initiative with the CANZUK area, but in terms of socio-economic statistics, issues regarding assimilation and economic compatibility arise;
- With an English speaking population of only 9.6%, citizens of South Africa could find it difficult to assimilate into British/Canadian/Australian/New Zealander lifestyles, and likewise if citizens within the CANZUK area were to emigrate to South Africa;
- A GDP per capita of only $13,400 (compared to the CANZUK average of $47,225) could see increased numbers of South African citizens migrating for better employment, income and quality of life prospects, with not enough citizens from the CANZUK area migrating to South Africa in return. This not only puts strain on the CANZUK economies, but also causes a "brain drain" (skills shortage) within the South African economy;
- With an unemployment rate in South Africa of 14% (over double the CANZUK average), this would also increase the likelihood of South African citizens relocating to the CANZUK area in search of greater employment opportunities, placing strain on all economies involved.
|South Africa's socio-economic circumstances make it incompatible with a CANZUK union at this time (photo: Wikipedia)|
Although South Africa shares history and many cultural similarities with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, it is unfortunate (yet clear) that in terms of socio-economic analysis, a free movement initiative between the CANZUK area and South Africa would not only strain the economic stability of the countries involved, but would likely result in the free movement initiative failing. Other observations from the aforementioned statistics regarding South Africa, India, Jamaica, Pakistan and the Bahamas include;
- English speakers (population): high numbers in the CANZUK area, but numbers are either low or not recorded within the 5 additional countries for consideration. This means assimilation would be very difficult for citizens who do not speak English, and difficult for CANZUK citizens to assimilate into such non-English speaking countries;
- Life expectancy from birth: above 80 years in each CANZUK country, but considerably lower in other 5 countries mentioned. This potentially implies differing lifestyle choices and lower health awareness, which could in turn place increased strain on CANZUK healthcare systems;
- Population: with Pakistan's population being over 6 times that of the CANZUK average, and India's being nearly 40 times that of the CANZUK average, a free movement initiative with these countries could see a large scale migration of citizens to the CANZUK area, placing a huge strain on all economies involved;
- GDP per capita: considerably higher in the CANZUK area than the other countries, meaning citizens from the other countries would likely migrate to the CANZUK area for higher income prospects and quality of life, and not enough CANZUK citizens would be willing to relocate to the other countries for lower income jobs, especially with considerably higher inflation rates;
- Unemployment: between 5-6% in the CANZUK area, but considerably higher in South Africa, Jamaica and the Bahamas, implying citizens of these countries could emigrate to the CANZUK area in search of higher employment prospects, which in turn, would create job shortages within the CANZUK area and skills shortages in South Africa, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
From a socio-economic standpoint, it is clear (albeit unfortunate) that integrating other Commonwealth nations within a free movement initiative at this time would not work. At present, additional countries (such as South Africa, India and Pakistan to name a few) do not meet the economic criteria that is essential for free movement and foreign policy initiatives to succeed, as the benefits of freedom of movement can only be guaranteed by Commonwealth countries that are very similar in terms of socio-economic characteristics; Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Of course, there is no reason why additional countries within the Commonwealth would not be able to join a free movement initiative eventually, but for the foreseeable future, the CANZUK area is so similar in terms of social, economic, cultural and historical factors, it would be folly not to promote free movement, free trade and foreign policy among these countries and observe the benefits from which more open borders would bring.