Commonwealth means business

Dr Mohan Kaul

The 2011 Commonwealth Business Forum was the biggest and most vibrant ever, proving that trade is the lifeblood of the association. 

Opened by the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, over 1,400 business and political leaders from 54 countries took part in the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF), including 16 heads of government. The Forum was addressed by 150 global business leaders and 20 investment roundtables were held, with six led by heads of state.

The Forum highlighted opportunities for growth over the next decade, revolving around biotechnology, information technology and renewable energy. Consequently, governments were urged to work with the private sector, universities and civil society to harness technology to help create sustainable growth. The CBF also raised a number of key issues – climate change, infrastructure and natural resources – that remain fundamental to development in all economies.

To counter the decline in available public funding, plans for private capital to take up the slack were discussed. Well-managed public-private partnerships can help facilitate trade and investment, and Commonwealth countries should seek to build such partnerships. The deal flow discussed at the CPF is on track to deliver $10bn in new investments over the next nine months.

The Commonwealth Business Council also launched a series of practical initiatives at the event. These included the Commonwealth Mining Network, Skills for Jobs and Careers, the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network and Commonwealth China Cooperation.

The CBF is a growing part of the CHOGM experience, evidence that trade and investment are at the heart of the new Commonwealth. In the words of Australia’s leading financial newspaper, “a new kind of Commonwealth was on show” at the Forum, one that can aid the revival of the association and make it relevant to the modern world.

About the author:

Dr Mohan Kaul is Director-General of Commonwealth Business Council


Post a comment

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Amnesty International