Trade ministers and business leaders from across the Commonwealth will meet virtually on Monday to examine how they can work together to spur a digitally-inclusive and green recovery in the face of devastating economic impacts linked to COVID-19.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, in partnership with the government of Bangladesh, will host the high-level dialogue, kicking off the third Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda Cluster Week.
The dialogue will cover the issues, including the Commonwealth’s deeper engagement with its member states particularly with Bangladesh to help face the challenges from Covid-19, said Bangladesh High Commission in London.
The Intra-Commonwealth trade and investment in the post-Covid era and how Commonwealth and Bangladesh will be working in these areas will also be discussed at the event.
The event will bring together commerce ministers from various Commonwealth regions, alongside leaders of regional and Commonwealth-wide private sector networks, to share experiences and hone strategies for enhancing trade in the rapidly expanding digital economy.
It will also be an opportunity to look at how businesses can transition to more resilient and sustainable models, supported by government, for a greener post-COVID future.
Shift towards digital trade
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said the disruptions triggered by COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the shift towards digital trade, which was already unfolding before the pandemic struck. "We now stand at a pivotal crossroads where entire countries, sectors and companies are at risk of being left behind."
This calls for coordinated action that can help build resilience, while catalysing a digitally-driven economic recovery across the Commonwealth that is both inclusive and sustainable, Patricia said.
"Both the public and private sector have crucial roles to play, so that we can all emerge faster and more sustainably from the COVID-19 crisis.”
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said the Commonwealth of 54 nations as enormous opportunities and unique advantages that are still underutilised.
"If we can bring our businesses and private sectors on board in digital trade, it could be instrumental for a green, resilient and inclusive recovery. And, this is high time we do it," he said.
Connectivity Agenda Cluster Week
The high-level dialogue, which is open to the public, is the first of five online events lined up as part of the 3rd Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda Cluster Week.
This series will focus on advancing the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda on Trade and Investment, a flagship programme launched in 2018 with the aim of boosting trade among member nations to US$ 2 trillion by 2030.
Cluster Week webinars will focus on business-to-business, physical, digital, supply side and regulatory connectivity.
Convened virtually, with some sessions made public for the first time, these meetings will take stock of progress and examine steps to restore and intensify trade during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sessions are Connecting the Commonwealth Private Sector for a Digital and Green Recovery on November 23, Addressing Digital Divides on November 26, Building An Enabling Environment to Support Micro, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises on December 1,
Leveraging Technology for Food Security on December 2 and Enablers for Inclusive Digital Trade on December 8.