The 2023 Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting (CTMM) opened today at Marlborough House in London. The meeting, being held on the 5th and 6th of June, brings together trade ministers from across the Commonwealth to discuss and deliberate on key issues related to trade and investment.
The theme for this year’s CTMM is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Cooperation for Resilient, Inclusive, Green and Digital Economies.‘ The meeting will provide a platform for ministers to review the progress made since the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and explore opportunities for mutual cooperation to increase intra-Commonwealth trade. The insights and guidance from this meeting will help shape the agenda for the upcoming 2024 CHOGM.
In his opening remarks, the Chair of this year’s CTMM, Dr Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, the Minister of Trade and Industry for Rwanda said:
“Practical and action-oriented commitments should be the outcome of our meeting, noting the tremendous efforts made so far. Commonwealth principles and values must continue to drive our deliberations and commitments, taking bold and ambitious steps to respond to the important mandate given to us by our heads of government.”
During the meeting, ministers will evaluate the state of the multilateral trading system in preparation for the World Trade Organisation’s 13th Ministerial Conference to be held in Abu Dhabi in February 2024. The discussions will cover several themes, including trade policy solutions to address the climate crisis, enhancing digital trade, supporting the multilateral trading system, and deepening trade and investment across the Commonwealth.
In her opening speech, Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC welcomed the trade ministers and highlighted the significance of their gathering.
“We are here because we share a common vision: to achieve US$2 trillion in intra-Commonwealth trade by 2030. We gather in a time of change and challenge. All of us are tightly bound by a tangled knot of crises spanning global systems: A world living with the social, political and economic consequences of COVID-19, crippling debt, rising inflation and high interest rates, spiralling costs for food and energy, tremors of instability and conflict and the increasingly harsh impacts of climate change. In isolation, each of these challenges is grave and serious, but they interconnect, entwine, and worsen one another, threatening our collective well-being. Following on from two meetings of Senior Trade Officials, a gathering of our Caucus of Ambassadors to the WTO in Geneva, and the outstanding preparatory work done by the Commonwealth’s superb Trade Team, we can say with all confidence that we are ready to get down to business.”
In addressing the challenges of inclusive and sustainable trade, Secretary-General Scotland went on to emphasise the need to address climate change, bridge the digital infrastructure divide, and maintain a transparent, inclusive, open, and fair-trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core. She called upon the ministers to take bold and ambitious steps to fulfil the important mandates given by Commonwealth Heads of Government in Kigali in 2022.
Also joining the CTMM is the Director-General of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Pedro Manuel Moreno.
The CTMM provides a valuable opportunity for Commonwealth trade ministers to collaborate, exchange ideas, and develop strategies to advance trade and investment within the Commonwealth. By working together, the Commonwealth nations aim to foster resilient, inclusive, green, and digital economies for the benefit of all their citizens.