UNCTAD and the Commonwealth sign cooperation agreement

21 September 2017

UNCTAD and the Commonwealth Secretariat today announced that they had signed a cooperation agreement that will see them work hand in hand to boost sustainable growth in developing countries, with a strong focus on island nations.

UNCTAD’s Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi and his Commonwealth counterpart Patricia Scotland signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday, during a meeting held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

“The Commonwealth is a highly important grouping of countries from around the world, with a broad range of levels of economic development. As such, it is a key player in global trade and an ideal partner to join forces with UNCTAD in our quest to ensure prosperity for all,” said Dr. Kituyi.

“Partnership is a critical factor if we are to meet the level of ambition that the international community set itself two years ago in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he added.

Under the terms of the agreement, UNCTAD and the Commonwealth notably will cooperate through to 2020 on the organization of the annual Oceans Forum on Trade. It is a key meeting for achieving the aims of Sustainable Development Goal 14, which relates to conserving and sustainably using the sea and its resources.

They will also help countries and regions to develop trade strategies for the “Ocean Economy” – the label for sea-related activities. Notably, they will work together with other partners to help increase transparency and address non-tariff barriers that affect the expansion of regional and global value chains in the fisheries and oceans economy sectors, with a view to enhancing economic benefits by 2030.

These are key areas of concern for the world’s Small Island Developing States, many of which are among the 52 members of th Commonwealth.

The cooperation agreement also covers work to enhance the production capacity and export level of the Green Economy in target countries, through UNCTAD’s National Green Export Reviews.

In addition, it also places the focus on the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

There are 47 LDCs, mostly in Africa, and they have long been a focus of the work of UNCTAD, which carries out economic research, produce analyses, policy recommendations to support government decision-making, foster consensus building and offer technical assistance to support the countries’ effective and equitable integration into the global economy.

LDC “graduation” to the next level of development is a key theme for UNCTAD, not simply for the sake of changing category but because it is important for such countries to maintain the momentum built up in the process.

There are 13 LDCs in the Commonwealth, which is a voluntary association of independent and equal sovereign states. Its London-based secretariat provides guidance on policy making, technical assistance and advisory services to Commonwealth member countries and supports governments to help achieve sustainable, inclusive and equitable development.

Most of the 52 Commonwealth nations are developing countries.

Besides LDCs and Small Island Developing States, they also Landlocked Developing Countries, which likewise face particular challenges in trade and sustainable development.