The just-concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London shone new light on an old organisation. Established in 1949, it is one of the world's oldest political associations of states. Indeed, it is a somewhat quixotic legacy of the British Empire in that many of its members once fought hard to throw off colonialism, but are constituents today. The Commonwealth is not thought of as an economic entity generally. However, it possesses the potential of being one. Its 53 members span Asia, Africa and the Americas. They are home to 2.4 billion people (out of 7.4 billion globally), more than 60 per cent of whom are under the age of 30. That demographic dividend helps to amplify the Commonwealth's economic clout in a world of ageing societies.
India - the grouping's biggest member, and which accounts for about half of its total population - is an emerging global economic power in its own right. Other nations, such as Australia and Canada, are essential players in their regions and beyond. Such countries, and smaller yet determined nations such as Singapore, give the Commonwealth an economic clout that is often overshadowed by organisations such as the European Union, important though the latter are.
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