Since the late 1990s, the world economy has seen rapid economic growth and increased trade performance for developing countries. Over the past two decades, these countries have doubled their share of the world’s gross domestic product from 20 to 40 per cent and increased their share in global trade from just over 30 per cent to almost 50 per cent.
Despite the overall upward trend, many Commonwealth countries in African, Caribbean and Pacific regions struggle to improve their export competitiveness, diversify exports and participate in the world economy. They need support to participate in negotiations to secure better trade deals with both developed and other developing countries and to make effective use of financial and technical assistance for trade development.
Trade between Commonwealth members is estimated at more than $680 billion today and is projected to surpass $1 trillion by 2020.
The Hub and Spokes Programme was launched in 2004 jointly by the Commonwealth Secretariat, European Union, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.
Our programme advances sustainable economic development and poverty reduction in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries by encouraging closer regional integration and increased participation in international trade. Regional trade advisers act as hubs of knowledge and advice, providing technical assistance to key regional and national organisations, while national trade advisers are deployed to strengthen the capacity of government ministries.
During the first phase of the project, we deployed 60 experts across African, Caribbean and Pacific regions. Hub and Spokes II was launched in July 2012 to enhance the capacity of key stakeholders – businesses, academic institutions and civil society organisations – to more effectively design, negotiate and implement trade policies and agreements.
Through the Hub and Spokes Programme, we continue to strengthen institutional capacity and increase trade opportunities for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Along the way, we have trained more than 34,000 stakeholders from parliaments, businesses, academic institutions and civil society organisations on national, regional and international trade policy issues.
Our work has facilitated trade integration within each region and supported national trade policies in countries such as Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Federated States of Micronesia, Rwanda, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sierra Leone, and Trinidad and Tobago.
We have advanced the implementation of trade agreements and supported national efforts to reform regulatory regimes. By strengthening collaboration, we have enhanced dialogue on trade and development and are continuing to help boost economic growth opportunities for countries around the globe.