Celebrating Commonwealth Day
13 March 2017
Posted by: IOE&IT News
Today is a momentous occasion – the 40th anniversary of Commonwealth Day which is marked on the second Monday in March every year.
Spanning the globe, the Commonwealth comprises 52 independent member countries - including advanced economies and developing nations - who work together to promote development, democracy and peace.
HM The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, has marked the occasion with the theme ‘A peace-building Commonwealth’ that collaborates to protect its cornerstones of respect and understanding for one another.
Today’s momentous milestone has seen the Queen’s Baton Relay officially launched as the countdown to the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast in 2018 gets underway. Over the next 12 months the Baton will visit people living in the nations and territories of the Commonwealth family in every continent and ocean.
A strong champion of the Commonwealth, you may recall how the Institute’s ground breaking World Trade Summit, ‘The Commonwealth & Beyond’ last October examined the big issues for businesses and the government to address in shaping international trade.
High amongst these were export opportunities, Brexit and globalisation. Our high-profile keynote speaker, Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council and former government Trade Envoy, said that exporting should become part of UK companies’ DNA again, after relying on strong domestic markets for too long.
Urging attendees to consider new export markets as part of our contingency planning and reinforcing how the Commonwealth offers huge opportunities, he reported that cultural, language and legal links make bilateral costs for trading partners within the organisation are 19 per cent less than between those in non-member countries.
Indeed, Dr Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, stated it is the “Government’s ambition to reclaim the crown” of being the “leader in world trade” with the help of the 52 Commonwealth countries.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Trade Ministers' Meeting, he added: “There are 52 member states in the Commonwealth, boasting a combined population of over 2.4billion people.
“Moreover, one billion of those Commonwealth citizens are under the age of 25, a vast pool of talent and resources that can help transform the world, if we ensure they have access to future trade and investment opportunities.”
Institute Director General, Lesley Batchelor OBE, said: “The Commonwealth is a tremendous power for good in the world. Any organisation that promotes discussion and harmony must be applauded and supported.”
Six essential facts about the Commonwealth:
1. The estimated combined gross domestic product of Commonwealth countries for 2017 is US$10.4 trillion and is predicted to reach US410.4 trillion by 2020.
2. Half the world’s top 20 global emerging cities are in the Commonwealth: New Delhi, Mumbai, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur, Bangalore, Johannesburg, Kolkata, Cape Town, Chennai and Dhaka.
3. With a combined population of 2.4 billion –a third of the world’s population - more than 60 per cent of Commonwealth citizens are aged 29 or under.
4. One in three of the world’s young people aged 15-29 live in Commonwealth countries: some 640 million.
5. Commonwealth countries are among the highest performing in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance – and represent seven of the top ten.
6. In Sub-Saharan Africa, seven of the ten highest scoring nations for gender equality.