UK holds first ever commonwealth trade ministers' meeting

UK holds first ever commonwealth trade ministers' meeting

ISLAMABAD: (APP) The UK has held first ever Commonwealth Trade Ministers' meeting, bringing together politicians, officials and policymakers from over 20 Commonwealth nations.

According to British high Commission, Islamabad, the event was jointly convened by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Pakistan, an important trading partner of the UK and was represented by the Secretary of Commerce, Azmat Ali Ranjha.

The two-day event saw Ministers and representatives from across the Commonwealth consider how to strengthen collaboration and deepen intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.

The meeting followed on from the Commonwealth Business Forum in Malta in November 2015 and provided an opportunity to kick-start an ambitious "Agenda for Growth" ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Summit hosted by the UK.

Dr Liam Fox, the UK's International Trade Secretary, said "The Commonwealth economies are wonderfully diverse, each with their own specialisations, industries and opportunities. Our diversity is our strength" addding "we have much to learn from one another, and a vast wealth of experience, knowledge and talent to draw upon".

"It is the government's intention to make Britain a leader in free trade, working with our friends and allies in the Commonwealth to remove barriers and liberalise the global trading environment. The trade ministers' meeting is an important step towards realising this vision and I'm looking forward to strengthening foundations today for our trading future."

The 52 member states in the Commonwealth boast a combined population of over 2.4 billion people and, significantly, 1 billion Commonwealth citizens are aged under 25.

Latest figures show intra-Commonwealth trade has grown faster than the global average over the past 10 years, and is projected to be worth $1 trillion a year by 2020. And according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Commonwealth countries whose imports of goods and services are likely to grow fastest over the next 5 years are Mozambique, Bangladesh, India, Brunei, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

With a population of around 190m and a growing middle class of some 60-80m consumers, Pakistan is an important trading partner of the UK. There are over 120 British businesses who are operating in Pakistan in infrastructure development; consumer goods; banking; pharmaceuticals; energy and education sectors.

This year the UK and Pakistan celebrate 70 years of bilateral relations.

As part of this, the UK and Pakistan are exploring ways of strengthening the bilateral relationship through increased trade and cultural ties.