This year’s meeting focuses on ‘Adding Global Value – Creating a More Prosperous Commonwealth’
By Charnika Imbulana reporting from Malta
The 10th Commonwealth Business Forum, the major business event in the Commonwealth calendar, bringing together heads of government, ministers and top business leaders from around the world numbering more than 1,300 delegates from 75 countries attending, was declared open by the Prime Minister of Malta Dr. Joseph Muscat at the Hilton Hotel, St. Julians, Malta yesterday.
The Prime Minister of Malta said: “I firmly believe strengthening trade and investment is a key area where the Commonwealth can add value. The Commonwealth can be a powerful voice in international trade negotiations, and in creating an equitable and sustainable environment for businesses from all parts of the Commonwealth to flourish in domestic, regional and global markets.”
Reflecting on the overarching CHOGM theme of ‘Adding Global Value,’ the Business Forum will reassess how the Commonwealth can provide practical and tangible support to help Governments and the private sector work together to create prosperity and sustainable economic development across all member countries.
CBF 2015 is being co-organised by the Commonwealth Economic and Investment Council (CWEIC) and the Government of Malta and is designed to provide a space for high level dialogue between business and government leaders from the Commonwealth and beyond. An important aim is to develop stronger partnerships between overnments and business to ensure that the Commonwealth plays its part in promoting sustainable growth across the world.
The forum will highlight the role the private sector can play in helping to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals within the post-2015 development framework. In addition to the overarching themes of trade, investment, entrepreneurship and employment, sustainability is one of seven priority areas of focus identified for the Forum including financial services, infrastructure, technology, health care, tourism and the maritime industry. As well as providing a platform for high level dialogue on these key issues, it is expected that business will be transacted and new commercial opportunities identified during the forum – thereby making the objective of a ‘More Prosperous Commonwealth’ a reality.
Those speaking at the forum will include the Prince of Wales, Akinwumi Ambode, Executive Governor of Lagos States, Rt. Hon. Lord Maude, UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Rt. Hon. Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Lord Mountevans and Paul Manduca, Chairman of Prudential.
Building on the overall CHOGM theme of ‘Adding Global Value,’ the forum will focus on six pan-Commonwealth themes: financial services, technology, infrastructure, healthcare, tourism and sustainability. The Forum will help identify opportunities where the Commonwealth can add value, helping to develop the six themes into ongoing programmes led by the Enterprise and Investment Council.
In research to be launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat during CHOGM, annual intra-Commonwealth trade is currently shown to be $592 billion which is projected to increase to $1 trillion by 2020 and $2.75 trillion by 2030.
Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, said: “The Business Forum continues to be a growing part of CHOGM, the number of businesses attending continues to grow and has doubled since Malta hosted the Forum for the first time in 2005. Trade, investment and private sector led development are of vital importance to all our countries and we are determined to deliver on the potential of the Commonwealth. It is vital for the future of the Commonwealth that we ensure talk is translated into action.”
Five new initiatives to strengthen Commonwealth trade and investment will be announced during the Forum:
• Commonwealth Green Finance Facility – to help fund sustainable infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth with a focus on island countries.
• CommonwealthFirst – a programme to encourage SMEs to leverage the Commonwealth network, with its inbuilt 19% trade cost advantage, when starting their export journey.
• The Commonwealth Trade Initiative – an online platform to connect businesses across the Commonwealth and facilitate greater intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.
• Commonwealth Healthcare Business Group – which will bring together complementary public, private and third sector expertise to help facilitate the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Governments in improving health provision and outcomes.
• The Global Goals Commonwealth Sustainable Business Challenge – The Challenge aims to encourage all companies across the Commonwealth and beyond to consider how they can engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they build them into their strategy and the way they do business.
The Forum will also be an opportunity for doing business, with more than 250 pre-arranged meetings between business leaders and 17 country or regional focused investment sessions, meaning that many business deals will take place or be originated during the Forum.
An interim statement to Heads of Government will be issued following the concluding address by the Prince of Wales at the Forum on the afternoon of 26 November.
The CBF also serves as a platform for Commonwealth nations to showcase investment opportunities to the global business community. The Forum provides an opportunity to influence the debate on global trade and investment issues.
The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) took place for the first time at the Edinburgh CHOGM of 1997; since then it has featured prominently as part of the CHOGM program.