Trade Policy Development


Trade Policy Development

It was acknowledged by the Commonwealth Heads of State in 1997 that globalisation was the way forward and the need to change policies to facilitate global trade for shared prosperity was necessary. The private sector has to play a vital role in creating a sustainable market economy.
CBC has spent considerable resources in undertaking in-depth policy research by working with the private sector in influencing government policy for practical implications. Special focus is given to critical concerns that will affect the developing countries. For the past 13 years, CBC has helped shape government policies through its research and insight into matters of investment, trade, governance, technology and infrastructure and its direct relationship with the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), with the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meetings (CFMM) and through private-public dialogue with ministers responsible for trade, commerce, finance, infrastructure development and information technology. It regularly presents policy papers drafted with inputs from the private sector to the Commonwealth ministers.

Policy Programmes

CBC has focused on in-depth policy research for practical implications. Its flagship forum, the Commonwealth Business Forum is a hub for heads of state, government ministers, policy advisors and private sector leaders who thrash out ideas and propose policy ideas aimed at enhancing investment and trade. Policy papers on relevant and important issues including trade, finance, health, PPP, local content and governance are submitted to ministers at the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).  This has led to better trade and investment by means of facilitating implementation of good policies.


In 1999, in Durban, the Heads of Government acknowledged CBC’s proposal and recognised the essential role of the private sector as a partner in shaping globalisation with equity. They noted the Council’s recommendations on trade, investment, ethics, corruption and corporate governance, infrastructure development and Commonwealth-CBC co-operation.

At 2005, in Valetta, CBC’s proposal for Shared Prosperity: Commonwealth Action on Globalisation was welcomed by the Commonwealth heads of government. They said, “The focus on windows of opportunity between the economies of the Mediterranean basin, Europe and the Commonwealth amply illustrates the impact of globalisation and interdependence on economic diversity and opportunity. New avenues for co-operation which would have been alien ten years ago are now at our doorstep.”

At CHOGM in 2007, CBC presented papers on climate change, liberalisation of aviation, Commonwealth principles on Corporate Governance, the problem of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and Intra-Africa Regional Trade and Local Content issues.

Enhancing Trade

CBC urges governments to push forward the process of creating within the WTO high-standard multilateral rules to protect and liberalise foreign investment. It has tremendous record in influencing the Doha Development Agenda and will continue to do so in the coming decade. Some high points are:

The Fancourt Commonwealth Declaration on trade:

In 1999 CBC’s report on “Developing Countries and the Millennium Round of the World Trade Organisation: A Compelling Case for Full Participation” was made widely available to companies and Heads of Government. The Fancourt Commonwealth Declaration by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their Durban Summit essentially embraced the recommendations made by the CBC to CHOGM.

In 2002, it published Developing Countries and the WTO Trade Debate: A Compelling Case for Full Participation in the New Round and carried forward trade discussions with concrete proposals to overcome road-blocks and make real progress at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun. The remit was that Governments and business constituencies across the Commonwealth had an important role to play in shaping policy decisions and setting the agenda for future trade policies.

In 2003, the Boksburg Group - a think-tank brought together by the CBC gave the developing countries confidence to play an active role in the WTO negotiations. Before this Group was established, some developing countries were against a trade facilitation agreement in the WTO. It was the Boksburg Group that helped change their perspective and influenced the decision at Cancun to include Trade Facilitation in the negotiations. The implementation of a Trade Facilitation Agreement will significantly improve the efficiency of international trade and is already improving the border management process of a majority of developing countries. This has been a model of public/ private dialogue and partnership to resolve a joint problem.

Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting

CBC has been at the forefront of submitting policy papers that facilitate liberalisation of services and promote inclusive banking. It presented a policy paper: Capacity of International Financial Institutions to support trade liberalisation in low income and vulnerable countries at 2004 CFMM. In 2005, it submitted its Bank the Unbanked paper.

Conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Negotiations

CBC continues to advocate the conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade negotiations to achieve a balanced deal that will benefit all countries. The CBC put forward its policy paper on Trade at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth, Australia in October 2011 calling for the conclusion of the round without further delay. At their Summit in Perth, Australia, Commonwealth Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to pursuing ambitious results in the WTO Doha Development Round, and expressed grave concern about the impasse in current negotiations. They called on WTO members to make substantive progress at the Eighth WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2011 for an early conclusion of the Doha Round.


Sunayna Sethi
Tel: +44 (0) 207 0248 200

Related Library Items

CBC Policy Paper - Commonwealth and the WTO