Originally published by the Commonwealth Secretariat
Least Developed Countries are set to benefit from an agreement that unites the work of the Commonwealth and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to boost commerce.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the trade body’s Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), during a two-day summit on inclusive trade at the WTO headquarters in Geneva.
The agreement will support Commonwealth Least Developed Countries (LDCs), many of which also fall within the category of Small and Vulnerable Economies and Small Island Developing States.
The collaboration is one of the first of the communique commitments from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be delivered. At the biennial summit in April, leaders of the 53 member reaffirmed their commitment to free trade in, "a transparent, inclusive, fair, and open rules-based multilateral trading system, which takes into account the special requirements of least developed countries and small and vulnerable economies."
In addition, they welcomed initiatives to, "strengthen the Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva through the provision of additional resources and the sharing of technical expertise that enables small and developing states to participate in the multilateral trading system and benefit from trade-related economic growth."
LDCs currently only account for less than one percent of all global trade. While it still represents a tiny percentage, that figure is more than double among Commonwealth countries (two percent) and is expected to grow further to 2.2 percent by 2020.
In an effort to break this cycle (the global figure has remained around one percent for more than a decade) the MoU will see Commonwealth and WTO collaboration on trade-related research, technical assistance, impact assessments and capacity building for LDCs.
Speaking at the signing, Secretary-General Scotland said, “strategic partnerships are indispensable if we are to deliver on the objectives agreed with our member countries, around a quarter of which are currently classified as Least Developed Countries."
“Our Memorandum of Understanding builds on the collaborative working relationship we have developed with the EIF over recent years, and the intention is that together we will provide broader support to our members through the transition process.”
The MoU will also help countries work towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17.11, which aims to double the least developed countries’ share of global exports by 2020.