The Commonwealth Secretariat and World Trade Organization (WTO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance the participation of Commonwealth countries in the multilateral trading system.
The MoU was signed by Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, QC and WTO Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on 11 June.
Under the agreement, both organisations agree to collaborate on trade-related technical assistance and trade capacity-building efforts for existing members of the Commonwealth and acceding countries.
“The MoU which we have signed merges the power of the WTO and accessibility of the Commonwealth Secretariat for the benefit of our members,” said Secretary-General Scotland.
“Bringing these two organisations together to do research and evidence-based policy development and then giving our Member States the ability, knowledge and expertise to implement, that’s a real opportunity for empowerment.
“60 per cent of our Commonwealth is under the age of 30, so we are looking at young people and women as they are often the ones driving Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).”
Shedding light upon the significance of the ongoing WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), Secretary-General Scotland said she is looking forward to addressing some of the most challenging trade issues, especially for those countries which are under development and small island nations.
Director-General Okonjo-Iweala has further highlighted how the new trade partnership will focus on empowering women and promote inclusion in the sector, while focusing on the development of MSMEs.
The two organisations have also agreed to cooperate on outreach initiatives, targeting key stakeholders for Commonwealth countries.
In addition, the MoU emphasises collaboration between the WTO and the Commonwealth Secretariat on research and analysis of issues of particular relevance to Commonwealth members in relation to WTO activities.
The signing took place just one week ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda scheduled from 20 – 25 June.
Lear more: Commonwealth Secretariat