Johnson Smith leading Jamaica’s team at trade ministers meeting in London
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The 2023 Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting (CTMM) opened on Monday at Marlborough House in London, with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith leading Jamaica’s delegation to the meeting.

The meeting, being held on June 5-6 brings together trade ministers from across the Commonwealth to discuss and deliberate on key issues related to trade and investment.

In a post on Twitter Johnson Smith said, “Always seeking to ensure the perspectives of developing countries including SIDS (Small Island Developing States) are considered in discussions on global policies that impact our development prospects”.

According to Johnson Smith, she is looking forward to the CTMM as it marks the first in-person gathering since 2019 and presents an excellent opportunity for Jamaica and other SIDS to leverage Commonwealth relationships to enhance trade and investment in a complex global environment.

The theme for this year's CTMM is 'Delivering a Common Future: Cooperation for Resilient, Inclusive, Green and Digital Economies.' The meeting will provide a platform for ministers to review the progress made since the 2022 wCommonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and explore opportunities for mutual cooperation to increase intra-Commonwealth trade. The insights and guidance from this meeting will help shape the agenda for the upcoming 2024 CHOGM.

In his opening remarks, the chair of this year's CTMM, Dr Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, the minister of trade and industry for Rwanda said: “Practical and action-oriented commitments should be the outcome of our meeting, noting the tremendous efforts made so far. Commonwealth principles and values must continue to drive our deliberations and commitments, taking bold and ambitious steps to respond to the important mandate given to us by our heads of government.”

During the meeting, ministers will evaluate the state of the multilateral trading system in preparation for the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference to be held in Abu Dhabi in February 2024. The discussions will cover several themes, including trade policy solutions to address the climate crisis, enhancing digital trade, supporting the multilateral trading system, and deepening trade and investment across the Commonwealth.

In her opening speech, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland welcomed the trade ministers and highlighted the significance of their gathering.

“We are here because we share a common vision: to achieve US$2 trillion in intra-Commonwealth trade by 2030. We gather in a time of change and challenge. All of us are tightly bound by a tangled knot of crises spanning global systems: A world living with the social, political and economic consequences of COVID-19, crippling debt, rising inflation and high-interest rates, spiralling costs for food and energy, tremors of instability and conflict and the increasingly harsh impacts of climate change.

“In isolation, each of these challenges is grave and serious, but they interconnect, entwine, and worsen one another, threatening our collective well-being. Following on from two meetings of Senior Trade Officials, a gathering of our Caucus of Ambassadors to the WTO in Geneva, and the outstanding preparatory work done by the Commonwealth’s superb Trade Team, we can say with all confidence that we are ready to get down to business.”

Arthur Hall

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