The inaugural Commonwealth trade meet focused on stimulating trade within the group kicked off in London on 9 March 2017. The two-day summit, which was planned before last year’s Brexit referendum has gained new significance following the result, especially since Britain is pushing for trade deals beyond European Union borders.
The event will involve a series of roundtable discussions between ministers from over 30 countries and chief executives. It would be followed by a ministerial roundtable, which is hoped to kick start work towards strengthening trade within the commonwealth block before the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit, which is scheduled to be held in the UK in 2018.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government summit is expected to bring together leaders as well as over 2000 businesses from across the commonwealth nations. The leadership of the commonwealth nations is targeting to increase the intra-Commonwealth trade to $1 trillion by 2020, from the existing $750 billion.
The organisers of the trade summit are hopeful that the event would result in a Commonwealth trade meet agreement that would not only recognise the benefits of trade within the block but would also provide a framework for potential trade initiatives between the groupings that would be achievable in the next few years.
The Commerce Secretary, Rita A Teotia is the Indian representative at the event. She took part in the panel discussion held on 9 March on the ease of doing business and creating an export economy. India along with the UK is one of the few commonwealth nations that have established good trade relations with countries across the globe. Other commonwealth nations are mostly regionally focused.
Hence, India is considered to be well placed when it comes to taking a lead role in driving forward the growth of the commonwealth bloc. The summit would also provide India with the opportunity to discuss trade with long-standing partners like Africa and also with smaller island states.