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network Colloquia CHOGM Asking the big questions commonwealth about economics Deals to the tune of US$2 billion are expected to come to fruition as a result of the 2013 Commonwealth Business Forum. The event, which takes place at CHOGM, provides a unique opportunity for business and political leaders to meet and discuss solutions to current economic issues, as well as forge investment partnerships Peter Callaghan The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) has become an important element of the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, giving political and business leaders the opportunity to ask big questions about the economic issues impacting on the Commonwealth family. In bringing together this unique concentration of international decision-makers, the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) enables Heads of Government, and their ministers, to interact with the private sector in generating new ideas and models for sustainable and inclusive growth by strengthening partnerships between business and government. This year, a consistent theme in all sessions was the strategic importance of human capital in the development of all Commonwealth countries. In concrete terms, the CBC expects deals Delegates take the opportunity to network at a Business Forum dinner in Sri Lanka worth US$2 billion in new projects and investments with new ventures including the creation to be concluded over the coming of a dedicated Commonwealth Business nine months as a result of the high-level Women’s website which will link to common meetings that were facilitated at the event. workspaces, a business exchange, and startup The CBC is confident that the CBF project and business development resources. exchange and the thousands of one-to-one It was noticeable that economic commentators exchanges between delegates will bring at the forum were showing increasing about a healthy business flow in 2014 and confidence that underlying changes in beyond. the global economy point to a long cycle In an important new initiative to enhance of growth that will offer an unparalleled investment flows across the Commonwealth, opportunity for governments to develop the CBC took advantage of the and enact long-term plans. There was also forum to convene the inaugural meeting of talk of growth reaching a historic high. the Commonwealth Investment Promotion Plans could include investment in large Agency Network, aimed at pooling knowledge infrastructure projects, the restructuring and best practice. Observations from of poorly performing sectors (both public this lively session included the importance and private) and further investment in social of supporting the home sector in line with services to support the business sector foreign investors and the recognition of regional across the Commonwealth. expansion as an important growth The forum also demonstrated that innovative opportunity for domestic industries. Sri Lankan businesses were thriving Good progress was made with expanding and increasingly keen to pursue international the Commonwealth Business Women’s opportunities. Attraction of further Network, with more than 80 delegates foreign direct investment will help ensure attending an implementation workshop. Sri Lanka achieves its domestic and international Out of this we expect the group to progress, growth plans. In the course of 80 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2014 global the forum, the CBC had the opportunity to meet associated Commonwealth bodies – including the Commonwealth Education Trust and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation – to work as a group in helping the Commonwealth Secretariat implement its new strategic plan. This was endorsed at a session with foreign ministers on 16 November. Good business is built on good relationships. The CBC facilitates the creation and maintenance of relationships across the Commonwealth and beyond, acting as the business guide for trade and investment. The CBC once again wishes to express its sincere thanks to His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka; the Honourable Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development; the Honourable Professor G. L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs; and all the Sri Lankan government for its support in hosting the forum. Peter Callaghan is Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council


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