The inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting will take place at Lancaster House in London on 9-10 March 2017 in advance of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the UK. The objective will be to reaffirm the commitment of Commonwealth member countries to a “transparent free and fair multilateral trading system,” and to define an ambitious Commonwealth led “Agenda for Growth” to promote trade, investment and job creation in member countries. This will support the target of increasing intra-Commonwealth trade to US$1 trillion by 2020.
The recommendation to hold the Meeting was an outcome of the Commonwealth Business Forum in Malta in November 2015. All countries are currently seeking to establish new trading relationships at a time of stagnating global trade. With a population of 2.3 billion, a combined economy of more than US$10 trillion and annual GDP growth in excess of 4%, the Commonwealth provides a perfect platform for achieving these aims. At present there is no inter-governmental coordination to help unlock the trade and investment potential of the Commonwealth – something that the meeting of Ministers seeks to address.
The Ministers Meeting will discuss areas where the Commonwealth can work together to strengthen trade and investment links between member countries and develop a policy agenda ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Meeting will have a particular focus on exploring the Commonwealth Factor – understanding how the shared values of the Commonwealth as well as language, institutions, similar legal and regulatory systems, etc. make average trade costs 19% lower between Commonwealth countries and how countries can better exploit this advantage to deliver sustainable trade and development.