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Commonwealth food producers urged to take advantage of trade incentives

7 November 2018

The Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, has encouraged food producers to take advantage of business opportunities within the Commonwealth, as world trade picks up following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Speaking at the 28th Commonwealth Agriculture Conference in Edmonton, Canada, the Secretary-General said intra-Commonwealth trade is forecast to reach around $700 billion by 2020.

"It could be even more if we capitalise on the synergies offered through our work to implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and the new African Continental Free Trade Area," she said.

"Even though the Commonwealth is not constituted as a formal trading bloc, trade and investment among our members is strong and growing”.

"This rising share of intra-Commonwealth trade underlines the growing significance of Commonwealth markets for many of our member countries," she added.

The conference hosts more than 300 international delegates from 21 developed and developing nations of the Commonwealth.

Its mission is two-fold: to enable the interchange of ideas, information and views on the secure sustainable use of natural resources in the production of food, forestry and fisheries, and to promote development of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and the rural environment.

The Secretary-General outlined a range of measures to realise the Commonwealth's vision of increasing intra-Commonwealth trade to $2 trillion by 2030 and expand intra-Commonwealth investment.

"With escalating protectionist sentiments and a backlash against globalisation in many countries, and even talk about trade wars, the role of the Commonwealth becomes increasingly important as a positive influence for strengthening trade links across boundaries and building prosperity in which all can share,” she said.

Producers as well as growers, suppliers and buyers would all benefit from initiatives agreed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting held in London earlier this year, she said, including the Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment.

"Our common language, shared inheritances, and similar systems of regulation and administration based on Common Law bind us together, making transactions easier and bringing many efficiencies when we trade with one another," she said.

It is the Secretary-General's second visit to Alberta since taking office.  The 28th Commonwealth Agriculture Conference is organized by the Royal Agriculture Society of the Commonwealth.