Senior Trade Officials from across the Commonwealth met virtually on 17 and 18 January 2023 to discuss plans for the 2023 Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting (CTMM) to be held in June.
During the meeting, Senior Trade Officials agreed that this year’s Trade Ministers Meeting will focus on the significant economic challenges facing all Commonwealth members - the role that trade can play to support an inclusive digital transition, climate action and a sustainable future.
Speaking at the Senior Trade Officials Meeting, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said:
“As we meet today, we can take confidence in the fact that trade and investment advantages are real examples of the benefits of Commonwealth membership. We may not be a formal trading bloc, but trade costs between Commonwealth countries are 21 per cent lower, on average, compared to trading with non-Commonwealth members.”
“At the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Heads directed that Trade Ministers should meet by June this year,” she added. “This Senior Officials Meeting is the first step in preparing for that important meeting and delivering outcomes that will help boost trade and investment among our 56 member countries. It is a vital opportunity for us to come together, to continue to unlock the benefits of intra-Commonwealth trade and investment, and to forge an ever-more resilient shared pathway to growth and prosperity.”
The Senior Trade Officials Meeting was chaired by Antoine Kajangwe, Director-General of Trade and Investment at Rwanda’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.
In opening remarks, Richard Niwenshuti, Permanent Secretary of Rwanda’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, said:
“Trade and investment lie at the forefront of transformational change for our communities… At CHOGM in Kigali, leaders articulated a clear trade and investment mandate, one that seeks to connect, innovate and transform the lives of citizens across the Commonwealth.”
He added: “This meeting of the senior trade officials provides the first opportunity to reflect on our shared targets and objectives, reflecting on how to revitalise our cooperation on matters pertaining to trade and investment for the next 18 months until [the next] CHOGM in Samoa.”
During the two-day meeting, Senior Trade Officials discussed additional issues to address at CTMM 2023, including co-operation to increase food security, the role of agricultural trade and supporting small and medium enterprises to create digital jobs. They also reviewed the progress made through the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda and examined the work taking place to support Commonwealth members from developing and emerging economies to integrate into the digital economy.
At the CTMM 2023, Trade Ministers will also take stock of the state of the multilateral trading system leading up to the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference to be held in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, in February 2024.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, through its trade programmes, continues to help member countries by conducting research in trade policy to promote the trade and development interests of members, by improving their global trade competitiveness, and by encouraging members to exchange best practices and experiences on trade and investment.
- Rena Gashumba Communications Adviser, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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