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Commonwealth preference
 

 

This is a relic of the old days of the supremacy of Britain, The creation of the British Empire, now known as the Commonwealth, brought in its train very strong economic links between the U.K. and the various Dominions and colonies which constituted the interests of Britain overseas. These links translated emselves into preferential treatment in the form of greatly reduced customs duties applied to Commonwealth goods entering the U.K. As so much of British foodstufs and raw materials for industry were imported from Commonwealth countries this had the effect of maintaining the prices of food and other goods in Britain at artificially low levels and protecting the U.K. from the worst effects of world commodity crises. These halcyon days came to an end during the years following the Second World War, firstly by the necessity of observing the rules laid down by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and finally by Britain's entry into the common market, although the harshness of this entry was softened by the agreement of the other members to allow Commonwealth preference to be phased out slowly.

Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary, 3rd edt.