C’wealth adopts connectivity agenda for trade, investment

DHAKA, April 21, 2018 (BSS) – 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.