To boost trade and investment in the Commonwealth, an Intra-Commonwealth SME Association and the Trade Portal was launched during Trade 2018, a mega event coinciding with Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.
Presiding over the launch, the Commonwealth Secretary General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC highlighted the huge untapped trade and investment potential in the Commonwealth.
“If without any focused strategy the Commonwealth countries trade goods worth over US$ 600 Bn, one could imagine how much growth potential exists if support is provided to SMEs and businesses”, she said.
A study by the Commonwealth Secretariat has estimated that intra-Commonwealth trade could surpass US$ One Trillion by 2020.
In order to actualize this existing potential trade and investment opportunities within Commonwealth countries, the Commonwealth Secretariat with three premier Indian Chambers conceived India-Commonwealth SME Association (ICSA) in 2016 to link SMEs in Commonwealth member countries to India’s Global Value Chains (GVCs). The name has since been further broad-based to Intra Commonwealth SME Association ( www.icsa.net.in).
Earlier Professor Mwinyikione Mwinyihija, ICSA Board Member and executive director of Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (Ethiopia) welcoming delegates said that the challenges faced by MSMEs across the Commonwealth member states were similar.
“Some because of a more developed eco system are able to do better, yet all would benefit by an opportunity to expand the scope of their influence across their national borders. This is what ICSA represents. Our core values as with the Commonwealth is inclusiveness, innovations and shared wealth”, he emphasized.
Mr. Shafquat Haider from Federation of the Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry and ICSA board member, showcased the trade portal prototype to the participants for their feedback and comments.
ICSA is being incorporated in India and is being currently nurtured by the Advisory Board Members drawn from SME associations and support institutions from several Commonwealth member countries.
Besides Professor Mwinyihija and Mr. Shafquat Haider, the other Board members present during the launch ceremony in Gold Coast included Ms. Opeyemi Abebe, Adviser Trade Competitiveness, Trade Division, The Commonwealth Secretariat (UK), Mr. Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General of Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (India), Dr. P. Nayak (India), Mr Louis Accaro, Director, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and Mr. Ahmed Yassin H.A Awale, Leather Sector Advisor to Ministry of Industrialization, Trade & Co-operatives (Kenya).