Minister for Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Trade and Barbuda Affairs, the Honourable E.P. Chet Greene, has met with trade counterparts from across the Commonwealth for the Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting (CTMM) held at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
The CTMM was convened under the topic “Delivering A Common Future: Co-Operation For Resilient, Inclusive, Green and Digital Economies” from 6th to 7th July 2023.
The meetings covered a wide range of topics and sought to highlight how the Commonwealth with its large and diverse family of nations, can more effectively collaborate to increase intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.
Ministers engaged on matters pertaining to increasing food security and co-operation in the digital economy, explored opportunities to enhance trade competitiveness under the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda and reflected on the interconnections between climate change and developing sustainable blue, green and digital economies.
The Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda is a platform for countries to exchange best practices and experiences to boost trade and investment and undertake domestic reform. Commonwealth leaders have committed to the vision of increasing Commonwealth trade to US$2 trillion by 2030.
In his intervention at the CTMM, Minister Greene commended the Commonwealth’s practical and focused work in ensuring that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Antigua and Barbuda are not left outside the ambition to increase intra-Commonwealth trade.
He called in particular for greater support for Commonwealth programmes that support SIDS and other vulnerable economies to build the necessary capacity to effectively and competently engage in the multilateral trading system as well as develop and expand their export capacity.
Minister Greene stated, “Antigua and Barbuda supports the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to deepening intra-Commonwealth trade and investment as an important vehicle for realising the Sustainable Development Goals.
As beneficiaries of Commonwealth support in developing our blue, green and digital economy including building local capacity to collect and analyse relevant trade and investment data to inform national policy, increasing trade in a fair and equitable manner in this post-pandemic era is a shared opportunity and a common challenge”.
Commonwealth Secretary General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC said, “I’m so pleased to announce the successful outcomes of the 2023 Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting.
The Commonwealth is committed to strengthening the multilateral trading system, deepening trade and investment, fostering sustainability, and enabling a digital transition. I am looking forward to continued collaboration between our members towards a brighter and more prosperous Commonwealth.”
The main outcomes of the meeting are the mandate to the Commonwealth Working Group on Trade and Investment to focus on generating an investment plan of action, with the goal of increasing investment flows among Commonwealth member countries.
Ministers also identified the need to prioritize the development of digital public infrastructure to facilitate greater digital trade that is affordable for all to access. In this regard, the CTMM agreed to establish a Legal Reform and Digitalization Working Group under the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda’s Business-to-Business Cluster to assist member countries in transitioning to paperless trade.
Further, Ministers agreed that The Commonwealth Chair in office, Rwanda, would deliver a joint statement on behalf of Commonwealth Trade Ministers to the upcoming 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in February 2024 highlighting Commonwealth concerns about protectionist measures and unfair trading practices and re-affirming the Commonwealth’s commitment to a transparent and inclusive rules-based multilateral trading system. The CTMM also recognized the importance of empowering women-owned businesses.
Minister Greene was joined in preparing for these meetings by High Commissioner Karen-Mae Hill, Senior Trade Analyst in the Ministry of Trade Jomica Carbon-Constant, and Winston Williams Jr.
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