Exclusive REPORT KAMSYN / Words by Sherine Bouez Communications Consultant
With its key configuration of constituencies, the Commonwealth leveraged on its Secretariat, members, organizations, and networks, in putting forward new trade-related solutions to their shared challenges. From April 16th to 18th, the Commonwealth Business Forum 2018 opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, brought together representatives of business, civil society, and government. In an effort to play a leading role in shaping the future of global trade policies with the complete social, economic, and political participation of all Commonwealth citizens, the chosen theme was “Towards a Common Future”. Prime Minister Theresa May spoke at the formal opening of the Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace, where it was “the first full Heads of Government meeting” in nearly four decades. The United Kingdom succeeded Malta as chair-in-office. In the following days, Heads made political commitments and agreed to pressing action plans.
KAMSYN attended the Business Forum as Corporate Partner of the organizing Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council CWEIC
The fifty-three member states addressed six key areas: Accessing modern financial services, easing the pathway for business and growth, harnessing Commonwealth technology and innovation, creating a new attitude to sustainable business, mobilizing an export economy, and attracting inward investment. Prestigious International Speakers included Bill Gates, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, His Royal Highness Prince William, His Royal Highness Prince Harry, among many others. Participants included eight hundred chief executive officers and board members of leading global companies, and over twenty political leaders.
The speech of Prime Minister Theresa May highlighted the shared values among the Commonwealth countries, as a basis for the following discussions around their potential contribution to a future which is fairer, as well as more sustainable, secure, and prosperous: “Over many decades this organization has brought together nations young and old, large and small, to celebrate our common bonds and to work to our mutual benefit. There have been difficulties, successes, controversies. But I believe wholeheartedly in the good that the Commonwealth can do.” An essential part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the Commonwealth Business Forum is a platform linking businesses critical to trade and investment with governments, to discuss the concerns facing their countries. The Forum was organized by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), in close collaboration with the host government of the United Kingdom, and in partnership with the City of London. With a combined GDP of US$13 trillion by 2020 it is estimated that the Commonwealth Advantage shared values, regulatory systems and language, has the potential to increase intra-Commonwealth trade by 20% and make trade costs on average 19% lower between Commonwealth countries.
Business leaders from across the Commonwealth, along with heads of government and ministers, tackled tangible ways to enhance trade, showcased investment opportunities, and promoted sustainable development in a post-Brexit context. Some of the major outcomes of the event included updated platforms for trade, women’s empowerment #shetrades, and solutions to migration. With 60% of the population under the age of thirty, youth was an essential topic. In more than forty plenary sessions led by expert moderators and in smaller roundtables, economic and business themes also covered Sustainability, Education, Human rights, Climate Change, Gender Equality, Energy, Health, Cyber Security, and more.
Prime Minister Theresa May stated ‘our presence in this place, united in purpose, and aware of the many millions we represent, is a supreme expression of faith in the Commonwealth – a Commonwealth of the people. We have unparalleled ability to draw together streams of wisdom from secular sources, and from diverse traditions of religious and philosophical thought and practice.”
Heads adopted a Declaration on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment, and mandated the Secretariat to come up with implementation plans. This was done in an effort to expand investment and boost intra-Commonwealth trade to US$2 Trillion by 2030. The ensuing agreement was to share best practice and experience as a way to advance the economic potential of member countries, in an inclusive framework incorporating all their people. This also pertains to women’s rights and migration.
To this avail, the twelve-page Commonwealth Heads of Government Communiqué mentions “A commitment to ratifying and implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), through legislation, policies and programs”, as well as “The recognition that safe, regular, and responsible migration, with full respect for international human rights obligations, can deliver socio-economic benefits and improve the resilience and inclusive growth of member countries, and lead to sustainable development. Heads welcomed the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. They called for active involvement in the lead up to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”
It was agreed that youth priorities and participation were to be at the core of national development policies. The emphasis was unanimously geared towards the importance of investing in a systematic approach that supports young people through skill building, entrepreneurship, apprenticeships, and targeted data collection for effective interventions related to unemployment. These decisions and many others were made possible by the collaboration of various entities. In the private sector, the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) has been a central enabler in implementing strategic business relations. It works with governments, investment promotion agencies, and private sector business leaders from across the Commonwealth, making it possible for member companies to enter new markets, build brand awareness, facilitate their partnerships, and support their growth.
In one of his statements, Lord Jonathan Marland, Chairman of the CWEIC explains, “In establishing the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) I wanted to create an organization with a culture of delivery at its heart; one which would start to transform potential into outcomes, by building on the enormous links between all our countries, improving the business environment and facilitating new trade and investment opportunities for both our member countries and member businesses, fulfilling our mission of ‘creating a more prosperous future for the Commonwealth for all its citizens.”
In the same token, Emile E. Issa, founder of KAMSYN Strategic Communications and Public relations, CWEIC’s corporate partner for 2018, shares similar views on growing trust organically and honing collaborative networks. Emile E. Issa acts as a Delegate representing private clients from the Middle East and Spain, with the aim of reaching a wider audience, in addition to focusing on youth. He draws on his commitment to aligned causes and on his work with high profile businesspeople as well as decision-makers, to increase the visibility of the Forum’s stakeholders and activities in light of the current state of affairs.
The Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) is another main actor in this vision. The non-profit private members’ club is deeply rooted in the Commonwealth tradition, a connection preceding the decolonization. In 1993, the ROSL secured its official recognition as a Commonwealth non-governmental organization (NGO) and was represented at CHOGM. It is dedicated to championing international understanding by facilitating collaborations amongst artists as well as musicians across the member countries. Under the Dynamic leadership of its new Director General Dr. Diana Owen, the club is further evolving its activities, conferences, and international network of members and affiliate clubs, based out of its prestigious St James’s location in London, only a few minutes walking distance from Marlborough House, base of CWEIC.
On April 19th, the eve of her 92nd birthday, H.M Queen Elizabeth II hosted a banquet at Buckingham Palace during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. She expressed her sincere wish to be succeeded by His Royal Highness Prince Charles as the Head of the Commonwealth. Following the decision of the member-nations this was formally announced.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2020, will be the 26th of its kind. “An increasing emphasis on trade between our countries is helping us all to discover exciting new ways of doing business. And imaginative initiatives have shown how together we can bring about change on a global scale” said Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
In this spirit of inclusiveness, some members were never part of the British Empire and have no constitutional link to it. Moreover, the next CHOGM2020 is scheduled to be held in Rwanda, which unlike previous host countries is not a former British colony or dominion. Non-Commonwealth entities such as corporations, businesses, public figures, leaders, countries, or small to medium enterprises, are becoming increasingly interested in building closer ties with this prestigious platform, that advocates trade possibilities beyond borders, as bridges to democracy and peacekeeping.
EXCLUSIVE REPORT KAMSYN /Photos KAMSYN & CHOGM 2018 online social media.