July 15, 2024

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The Commonwealth and ITC strengthen ties to help countries achieve sustainable & inclusive economic development

08 February 2022: The Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Trade Centre (ITC) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen, promote and support private sector development in Commonwealth countries.

At the signing ceremony, Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, and ITC Executive Director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, stressed the importance of this MoU.

ITC MoU cropped

Secretary-General Scotland said:
“The Commonwealth Secretariat has a history of successful partnership and collaboration with the International Trade Centre. I am delighted that we are taking that partnership forward with this new agreement – especially as member states strive to build back in a sustainable and inclusive way from the pandemic.  The Commonwealth’s small states are among the most exposed to the multiple threats of climate change, economic crises, and the impact of the pandemic. The Secretariat’s trade programme strives to further strengthen intra-Commonwealth trade and investment, while equipping member states to increase their share and participation in global trade. This renewed collaboration will help us move towards that goal, fostering climate-sensitive and gender-responsive technical support for international trade whilst encouraging an equal and fair distribution of benefits.”

Executive Director, Coke-Hamilton said:
The pandemic has created a greater divide for vulnerable groups forcing us to creatively consider how we work together for the greater good of humanity. As sustainable development continues to be threatened, greater cooperation is needed to safeguard the gains made while pushing for progress. I am delighted that with the signing of the MOU, both the ITC and the Commonwealth Secretariat will be joining forces around strategic areas.”

The MoU highlights four pressing issues for the two organisations to collaborate on, including resilience building in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), women’s economic empowerment, supporting Commonwealth States’ engagement with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and advancing blue and green economy recovery.

Under the terms of the MoU, the Commonwealth and the International Trade Centre (ITC) will leverage their unique strengths, products and services to provide a coordinated and integrated programme of support to Commonwealth countries.

Both organisations emphasised their long-standing work in supporting export growth and business development in developing and vulnerable states.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s work on trade takes a three-pronged approach of providing research and policy advisory, bespoke support to build trade competitiveness and a coordinating platform through the Connectivity Agenda to share best practices and collaborate on identified areas of interest.

ITC’s priorities include women’s entrepreneurship, green trade, intra-African trade and the development of SIDS, among others.

For the MoU, specific areas of collaboration include:

  • Providing technical assistance on gender-responsive policy reforms, green, blue and circular economy and climate resilience.
  • Collaboration on trade-related issues around Least Developed Country (LDC) graduation and identify advocacy opportunities to advance international support measures for LDCs.
  • Collaboration with the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda (CCA) Digital Cluster on the development of paperless trade solutions and/or platforms.
  • Present and train stakeholders on ITC’s ‘SheTrades’ Outlook and identify policy priorities.
  • Map a regional business association portfolio for youth empowerment under the AfCFTA.
  • Promote access to trade-related data between the two organisations to support time-sensitive data-driven reports.
  • Joint capacity building, workshops and partnerships with a focus on value chains, climate change and financing. 
  • Joint publication products, events, advocacy and sharing of best practices.
  • Joint campaigns and training for stakeholders on specific tools of priority (e.g. green and circular economy, climate resilience and gender responsiveness)
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