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Commonwealth, WTO Sign MOU On TradeWednesday, June 13, 2018 > 09:46:21
The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Enhanced Integrated Framework of the World Trade Organization, the Commonwealth announced on Monday.
The intergovernmental organization in a statement issued by Ben Maloney of its communications division, said the agreement, slated for Geneva, Switzerland, is aimed at boosting trade exports for Commonwealth small states.
“The agreement will support Commonwealth Least-Development Countries (LDCs), many of which also fall within the category of Small and Vulnerable Economies and Small Island Developing States,” Maloney said.
“LDC’s currently only account for less than one per cent of all global trade. While it still represents a tiny percentage, that figure is more than double among Commonwealth countries (two per cent) and is expected to grow further to 2.2 per cent by 2020.
“In an effort to break this cycle (the global figure has remained around one per cent for more than a decade) the MOU will see Commonwealth and WTO collaboration on trade-related research, technical assistance, impact assessments and capacity building for LDCs.”
According to the spokesman, the MOU will also help countries work towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17.11, which aims to double the least developed countries’ share of global exports by 2020.
It is expected that, between 2021 and 2025, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Bangladesh, Kiribati and Tuvalu will have progressed beyond LDC status.
Secretary-General Scotland said: “Strategic partnerships are indispensable if we are to deliver on the objectives agreed with our member countries, around a quarter of which are currently classified as Least Developed Countries.
“Our Memorandum of Understanding builds on the collaborative working relationship we have developed with the EIF over recent years, and the intention is that together we will provide broader support to our members through the transition process.”
Maloney said Scotland will take part in a panel discussion, alongside Uganda’s Trade Minister, Cambodia’s Secretary of State for Commerce, and the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre.
The discussion, titled Forging new paths for LDCs in multilateral and regional trade, will focus on ways in which to integrate LDCs into regional and global trading systems amid economic and political uncertainty.
While in Geneva the Secretary-General will also take part in a ceremony which unveils the UK government’s funding of two trade advisers for the Commonwealth Small States Office (CSSO).
The funding commitment builds on the announcement of the UK International Development Secretary Liam Fox at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to support the trade work of the CSSO.
The funding will also cover the appointment of two human rights experts, as announced by UK Foreign Minister Lord Ahmad in April. The money will also go towards programmatic work aimed at supporting small states to engage effectively with Geneva-based human rights institutions.
“This initiative is a formidable gesture of support to the multilateral trading system. I hope all our small states in Geneva will make the most out of this project. It is also an opportunity to work collectively with other countries and groupings to build consensus on trade issues,” Scotland added.