Multilateral trade connectivity among the 53 member states can boost trade to US$ 2 trillion, says The Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland .

Visiting Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland on Wednesday said , multilateral trade connectivity among the 53 member states can boost trade to US$ 2 trillion.

As a guest speaker, the Commonwealth Secretary General  Patricia Scotland  was speaking at a seminar titled ‘Commonwealth Advantage – Progress and Potential’ at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in the city as the chief guest.

She said they projected a decade ago that intra-Commonwealth trade should reach around US$ 700 billion by 2020 and now their vision is building on Commonwealth advantage to increase intra-Commonwealth trade to US$ 2 trillion by 2030 and expand intra-commonwealth investment.

Pointing to different opportunities, she said, “We’ve found [through research] that we can grow intra-commonwealth merchandise exports by 5 percent if we reduce by 10 percent taken paper work confronting exporters and daily transactions.”

She highlighted issues related to business, prosperity, sustainability saying these are real opportunities to enhance dynamism in member countries.

The Commonwealth Secretary General said working together is the way forward if they want to have safety and security.  “We’ve an opportunity to enhance business together.”

She did say nothing about the Rohingya issue during her speech. However, when asked, she said Rohingya issue is an important issue for the Commonwealth and appreciated Bangladesh for sheltering and providing humanitarian support to a large number of Rohingyas.

At the seminar , Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali  said Commonwealth advantages and potentials have to be exploited through a “reformed and revitalised” organisation.

“We’re thinking aloud of a Commonwealth of tomorrow, a reformed and re-launched Commonwealth,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said Commonwealth’s present state and the context of Brexit are prompting Bangladesh to explore new possibilities and to think, how to transform the organisation and make it more responsive to the evolving international realities and the needs and expectations of the majority of its developing member states.

“The world has changed, the historical context has changed, and the member states role in, value of and expectations from the Commonwealth have also undergone evolution. But the approach, priorities and orientations of Commonwealth have not. Reform, therefore, is a must,” he said.

Minister Ali said the Commonwealth has to evolve and come up with priorities along the expectations of its member states that are mostly developing ones. “The Commonwealth must graduate into an organisation, prepared to meet the evolving needs of the member states through collective initiatives.”

He said restructuring of the Commonwealth may include creation of new bodies and mechanisms and reorganising old ones, such as forming a Commonwealth Development Fund or a Bank.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam , BIISS Chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmad and Director General AKM Abdur Rahman also spoke at the seminar.

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