Lesotho’s government wanted to be more proficient at recording and managing debt. So it did what increasing numbers of governments are doing – it consulted our experts. In the spring of 2017, Lesotho seconded two debt officers to work with our team in London. Ms Keletso Matsela and Ms Mapoloko Seitlheko spent two weeks with the Debt Management Unit (DMU). Drawing from its expertise, they learned how to interpret new complex loan agreements.
There were 33 Commonwealth and regional meetings in the 2015-2017 period. The voices of our countries, both large and small, were heard in these high-level forums; none more so than at our 2017 Finance Ministers Meeting in Washington DC. There, in a forceful intervention, the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, called for funding rules to be changed. The impact of climate change on small island developing states (SIDS) needed urgent attention, he argued. The rules must change so that those countries could access funds more quickly.
Improving sustainable natural resource extraction
How can a country develop its petroleum economy while protecting its environment? It is a difficult balancing act. The environment is of particular importance in The Bahamas, where beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters are major attractions for tourists. So when Kenred Dorsett, the Bahamas Minister of Environment and Housing at the time, needed advice on how to approach the problem, he consulted experts at the Commonwealth Secretariat. It was essential for him to ensure both economic and environmental sustainability of any development in the petroleum industry.
Securing maritime boundaries
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has just signed an agreement with French Ambassador Philippe Ardanaz to settle the country’s ocean boundary with the islands of Guadeloupe and St Barthélémy. Prime Minister Browne’s government thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat for facilitating talks with France and for providing legal aid and training for its negotiators. “This delimitation was made possible through the support and technical assistance of the Commonwealth,” the government statement said.
Enhancing the blue economy
Semisi Fakahau is Tonga’s Minister of Fisheries. His country is one of our 24 small island developing states (SIDS). Like many of them, his depends on the seas, and also like them Tonga wants to expand its fisheries. But that’s easier said than done. Climate change, overfishing and pollution threaten the future of their fishing industries. So when Mr Fakahau learned about our Blue Charter of principles for sustainable ocean development, he was full of praise.
Harnessing the Commonwealth trade advantage
Were you aware of the trading advantage that businesses in Commonwealth countries enjoy? Very simply, if you trade within the Commonwealth, exporting from one member to another, it is approximately 19% cheaper to do so than it would be outside. In March 2017, that advantage was the focus of attention at a special meeting in London – the Commonwealth Trade Ministers Roundtable, which the Secretariat and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council jointly convened.
Number of member countries we helped on trade
Facilitating finance for trade
Small and developing countries need help with boosting their trade and investment flows. So, in November 2015, the Commonwealth joined forces with the Governments of India, Malta, Mauritius and Sri Lanka to open a guarantee fund – the Commonwealth Trade Financing Facility – which is underpinned by voluntary contributions.
Providing trade advice
Philda Maiga is a trade adviser to the Kenya Government. She’s working with them to increase the country’s exports to the rest of the world. Ultimately, their aim is to create growth and jobs for the benefit of all Kenyans. To achieve this, they are striving to link the government’s trade policy to the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and align it with Agenda 2030.