New forum to tackle Commonwealth trade challenges

TheCommonwealth-1London, England — A Commonwealth working group on trade will meet in Malta for the first time to consider challenges affecting member countries.

The consultative meeting of the Commonwealth Expert Group on Trade (CEGT), which will take place from 25-26 March 2015, will bring together 27 experts from member countries.

This is a new forum for Commonwealth countries that will provide a platform to review trends and share perspectives, particularly with regards to promoting a development-friendly global trading system.

Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj described the meeting as an invaluable opportunity to consider trade issues affecting member states, with a view to developing effective pan-Commonwealth strategies.

He said: “This meeting will provide an important and powerful vehicle to drive forward new and ground-breaking initiatives to boost trade competitiveness in member countries, which will invariably lead to economic growth and sustainable development.”

The meeting will seek to address major global and regional trade trends affecting the Commonwealth, such as the latest developments in the Doha Round of Negotiations; the advent of mega trading blocs; and the role of multilateral trading systems in the post-2015 development framework.

At regional level, participants will discuss the Pacific Regional Aid for Trade Strategy – a strategy to provide developing countries in the region with financial assistance to improve their trading capacity to increase economic growth and reduce poverty.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has a long-standing track record in providing advice and technical assistance to member countries in the area of trade, including policy analysis, institutional capacity building, and implementation of regional and multilateral trade agreements.

The Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment, issued at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013, reaffirmed commitment to a transparent, free and fair multilateral trading system, while taking into account the requirements of small developing states. The statement calls for increased trade capacity support and recognises the potential for intra-Commonwealth trade.

Outcomes of the CEGT meeting will feed into the design and implementation of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s trade policy activities.

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