The leaders of the Commonwealth member states signed the Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment at the end of their 3 day summit last week. The Commonwealth accounts for a fifth of world trade and is home to over 2 billion people, the majority of whom live in developing and least developed countries.

Trade and its ability to boost development was a central theme of the CHOGM meeting, with the communiqué stressing the fundamental importance of trade and investment to economic prosperity, poverty alleviation and employment generation.

The statement also gives a clear commitment to support the role of the World Trade Organisation and the Doha Round – “We reaffirm our commitment to a rules-based transparent free and fair multilateral trading system that enhances our trade liberalisation and developmental objectives, while taking in to account the special requirements of small and vulnerable economies and Least Developed Countries. In particular, we underline the urgency, need for flexibility and importance of securing a successful and balanced outcome at the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation in December 2013, to provide renewed confidence in the multilateral trading system and the much needed impetus for post-Bali negotiations to conclude the Doha Round in the near future.”

In addition to expressing their support for the headline deal on Trade Facilitation, which is being prepared for the Bali Ministerial, the statement calls for MC9 to include agreement on providing duty-free and quota-free access for the least developed countries to markets in the developed world, as well as some progress on agricultural issues. There is also a further call for “the removal of trade distorting subsidies and the removal of non-tariff barriers” – issues which continue to be extremely contentious within the WTO setting. A commitment to resolve these areas and create free and fair access for developing economies to their developed compatriots within the Commonwealth could create a greater impetus among other trading blocs to follow suit.

 

summary

The leaders of the Commonwealth member states signed a high level statement on International Trade and Investment at the end of their 3 day summit last week. The Commonwealth accounts for a fifth of world trade and is home to over 2 billion people, the majority of whom live in developing and least developed countries. A commitment to create free and fair access for developing economies to their developed compatriots within the Commonwealth could create a greater impetus among other trading blocs to follow suit.

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