Foreign Minister proposes changes in Commonwealth

 The Foreign Min­ister, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has proposed six measures for the transformation of the Commonwealth to enable it serve rich and poorer members equally.

They include policies that would facilitate trade and investment; reg­ulate, yet make the flow of labour within Commonwealth countries easier; and lead to greater invest­ment in education, skills-training, innovation and entrepreneurship for young people.

Ms Botchwey was speaking at the British foreign relations think tank Chatham House in London last week on the theme: “The Com­monwealth in a changing world.”

Ms Botchwey listed the other measures needed to revitalise the Commonwealth as climate adapta­tion, paying particular attention to small states, and boosting the hu­man and financial resources of the Commonwealth institution itself.

Ms Botchwey told her audience: “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, 60 per cent of whom are 30 years old or younger,” she said.

The Commonwealth comprises 56 countries from five regions, in­cluding some of the world’s largest and wealthiest, such as Australia and Canada, as well as the smallest, among them Tonga and St. Kitts and Nevis.

Ms Botchwey said, considering the size of its population, demo­graphic and political profiles, as well as its wealth and economic poten­tial, the Commonwealth should be the second most consequential organisation of states globally.

“But the question we must ask ourselves is whether it is,” she asked rhetorically.

Ms Botchwey proposed an industrialisation and economic diversification strategy linked to Re­gional Integration Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements within and beyond the Common­wealth.

That, she said, would be “a guar­antee against the stagnation that is widespread across our countries.”

She advocated for a Common­wealth-wide mobility agreement to help redress labour and skills-de­mand through “safe, orderly and regulated migration.”

Additionally, what Ms. Botchwey called “a common Commonwealth market” would allow work and services to be exchanged without relocation of workers across bor­ders as well as have young people trained wherever they lived in the Commonwealth. — GNA

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