Reshaping the future of global trade for universal economic growth

London, England — Landmark events taking place this year have the potential to reshape the future of Commonwealth trade. Officials and experts will meet in South Africa to consider how international trade can be made more inclusive to support sustainable development.

The Commonwealth Trade Symposium will provide participants with a unique opportunity to share perspectives and review trade-related topics in one forum. The symposium takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 23-24 June 2015.

Bringing together member countries with diverse economic characteristics, the conference aims to highlight issues critical to creating a trade system that supports sustainable development. Experts will provide the latest thinking on areas such as trade challenges of developing countries, aid for trade, and engaging the private sector.

“The purpose of this conference is to support member countries to achieve their development objectives as the trade landscape evolves”, said the Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj.

Maharaj added: “As the world is close to agreeing the new development targets, it is vital we take every opportunity to promote a global trade agenda which accelerates economic growth the world over. We believe that effective participation in global trade is an essential prerequisite for sustainable development. It is good for jobs, it is good for growth and good for our Commonwealth.”

“The Commonwealth has taken a leading role in promoting a rules-based, transparent, free and fair multilateral trading system. We will continue to strengthen the trading capacity of all our member states by supporting regional trading arrangements which complement a multilateral system and by exploring the potential of intra-Commonwealth trade,” he added.

The year 2015 is a pivotal year for development. The global trading landscape will be transformed by a number of milestone events: the post-Bali work programme; the WTO’s tenth ministerial meeting; the UN adoption of the new sustainable development goals, which include targets on trade; the fifth Global Aid for Trade Review; and a new international agreement on climate change.

Global trade is increasingly characterised by global and regional production networks. Research shows that less developed countries have not been able to participate in these networks in such a way that promotes sustainable inclusive growth.

Discussions during the conference will consider how trade, a cross-cutting issue in the new development goals, can support sustainable economic growth across the Commonwealth. Participants will explore issues related to South-South trade and small states with a view to increasing participation of the South in emerging and evolving production networks.

Commonwealth heads of government issued a stand-alone statement on trade at their last meeting in 2013, the Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment. They reaffirmed their commitment to a fair and transparent multilateral system while taking into account the requirements of capacity-constrained countries such as small states, least developed countries and Sub-Saharan Africa.

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