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Commonwealth summit opens

Press Trust of India  |  London 

British today opened the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) here, marking the start of the (CHOGM) with a message of using the organisation to challenge the forces of protectionism and promote greater trade.

is among 52 other member-countries participating in the summit hosted by the UK in around the theme of "Towards a Common Future". will be reaching here tomorrow to attend the CHOGM.

"The 2018 Commonwealth Trade Review predicted that trade between member states will be worth USD 700 billion by 2020. Yet risks remain. Global growth is fragile. The challenges posed by protectionism are all too clear," said in her opening speech at the Guildhall.

"If Commonwealth businesses are to flourish in such times, if we are to deliver and secure the prosperous future our young people want and deserve, then the Commonwealth and national governments must not be afraid to act," she added.

The (CII) is participating in the CBF with what it describes as a "momentous" delegation of nearly 40 business leaders across different sectors of the country, led by CII Rakesh Bharti Mittal, of

The Indian business leaders aim to highlight opportunities for intra-Commonwealth collaboration across technology, skills, agriculture and infrastructure verticals as part of the largest Indian delegation of CEOs and young Indian business leaders to any Commonwealth Summit in recent times.

Chandrajit Banerjee, CII Director-General, said: "The key question is what will be the new-age "common" factor in the Commonwealth? India's trade with Commonwealth nations is 20 per cent of its global trade basket.

"Therefore, business must redefine and lay the foundation for the new evolving architecture of the Commonwealth this presents a great opportunity for Indian business to lead the narrative, whether it is in trade facilitation, seamless movement of professionals and visitors, skills to support new-age employability, sustainability or small business."

He stressed that re-engaging with the Commonwealth at the highest level with Modi's participation at CHOGM later this week is a "marked strategic shift" for

Tripartite or bilateral cooperation for collaboration in third countries is also of significant interest, with new models of collaboration between and the UK, focusing on joint projects and investments in African countries.

The UK, which is the Chair-in-for two years, also unveiled a range of new initiatives and networks to mark the launch of CHOGM. announced that the UK will be funding a new Commonwealth Standards Network, which will support developing countries in particular to better meet existing international standards.

"It will empower developing countries to have a stronger voice in the international standards community something that has benefits on a global scale," she said.

The UK will also fund a new Trade Facilitation Programme, supporting and providing technical assistance to selected Commonwealth countries in implementing the World Trade Organisation's Trade Facilitation Agreement.

And, working alongside the International Trade Centre, it will also deliver a new SheTrades Commonwealth initiative to offer Commonwealth-wide support to help countries break down gender barriers in international trade.

"There is no doubt there is Commonwealth factor trade costs are 19 per cent lower between Commonwealth members. Some members benefit greatly but we can spread that benefit further," said Charles Bowman, Lord of the City of

"Ask not what the UK wants from the Commonwealth but ask what the UK can do for the Commonwealth," added Lord Marland, the of the (CWEIC) and in charge of the Commonwealth Business Forum, which, alongside Women's, People's and Youth forums, marks the precursor to the Heads of Government Meeting starting on Thursday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 16 2018. 18:50 IST