UKBD TIMES DESK:
In response to the risks to growth presented by rising protectionism, leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) today expressed their strong support for the multilateral trading system and adopted a six-point connectivity agenda to boost trade and investment links across the Commonwealth.
Leaders committed themselves to the vision of increasing intra- Commonwealth trade to US$2 trillion by 2030, and expanding intra-Commonwealth investment. This is to be achieved through the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment, said a media release.
The Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda will leverage the Commonwealth Advantage by creating a forum for Commonwealth countries to exchange best practices, approaches and experiences to trade and investment. This cross- fertilization will contribute to further reducing trade frictions among members.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The Declaration on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment underpins our commitment to ensuring that we leverage the Commonwealth Advantage for the benefit of all of our 53 member states”.
“It recognises the importance of the multilateral trading system in ensuring the integration of small, vulnerable and least developed countries and countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific into the world economy, and welcome initiatives which will support greater and more effective participation of these countries in international trade,” Patricia Scotland added.
“Critically, it provides our membership, who despite representing a broad spectrum of constituents in world trade nevertheless have similar regulatory backbones, with a space away from the give and take of trade negotiations to share experiences, and learn new approaches to addressing existing and emerging trade and investment challenges,” said Patricia Scotland.
The six points of the declaration are: 1) Physical Connectivity focusing on trade facilitation, best practice on infrastructure development and trade information; 2) Digital Connectivity focusing on supporting the development of national digital economies, improving regulatory frameworks and best practice on digital infrastructure; 3) Regulatory Connectivity focusing on improving understanding of regulatory regimes across the Commonwealth, promoting good regulatory practice and mutual recognition; 4) Business to Business Connectivity supporting greater interface between the public and private sectors, as well as between Commonwealth businesses, in particular micro, small and medium enterprises, and assisting member states to attract investment, particularly with the aim of enhancing the private sector’s role in promoting the blue and green economy; 5) Supply Side Connectivity to encourage the participation of all members in global value chains; and 6) Inclusive and Sustainable trade ensuring that women’s and youth’s economic empowerment are mainstreamed in all pillars.
Senior trade officials from across the Commonwealth will meet in June to begin operationalizing the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda.