London: Commonwealth needs new framework to become economic powerhouse

Botchwey commonwealth

By Edward Nyarko

“The largest number of citizens in the Commonwealth do not earn enough to power the production and market expansion needed to create economic security, whether in the industrialised or developing regions of the Commonwealth,” says Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

According to her, there is a need for a new framework for Commonwealth trade to surpass the potential $2 trillion trade within the Commonwealth. In a conversation with the British think tank Chatham House, Ghana’s top diplomat focused on “the Commonwealth reimagined.”

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

Sharing her thoughts, the Minister stressed that having a common Commonwealth strategy for industrialization and economic diversification, strategically linked to Regional Integration Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements within and beyond the Commonwealth, is a guarantee against the stagnation that is widespread across the 56 member states. She added, “Our citizens watch as we struggle with policies to raise growth in isolation through austerity and high taxes. The pie is simply not capable of feeding everyone unless consumer-based market expansion considers the potential of our 2.5 billion population.”

Commonwealth and Jobs

She opined that Commonwealth countries need to create over 50,000 decent jobs each day until 2030 to provide opportunities for young people entering the labour market. It is estimated that, together, Commonwealth countries need to create three in every five jobs in the world as the labour force in countries such as Japan, China, and Europe shrink. Within the Commonwealth itself, labour mobility does not correspond to the labour rigidities of our economies, denying markets the skills and resources needed to create goods and services needed to power greater inclusive growth and wealth creation. It is quite clear that we have failed to draw the link between young tech workers, the ubiquity of services they provide, and anxiety over physical migration.

Her comments come at a time when there is a great strain on national economies, the existential crisis of climate change and natural disasters, but at the same time present enormous opportunities to build resilience through new ways of doing things.

Acknowledgement

Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey acknowledged the contributions of past Secretaries-General since 1965, from Arnold Smith, Shridath Ramphal, Emeka Anyaoku. Don Mckinnon, Kamalesh Sharma and the current SG Patricia Scotland KC.

She thanked Chatham House for providing the forum.

Facts about the Commonwealth

 The Commonwealth provides a unique setting for international cooperation, with the ability to convene 56 countries from five different regions, including some of the largest and richest countries in the world, and some of the smallest and most vulnerable. The Commonwealth has a population of 2.5 billion. 60% of this population is aged 30 or younger. By numbers, demographic data, political profile, wealth and economic potential as well as re-profiling to build resilience in the face of climate change and the future world of work, the Commonwealth is the second most consequential organisation of states globally.

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