GLOBAL – The commonwealth has revealed that Trade among member countries is projected to hit the US$700 billion mark in 2020 despite a rise in protectionist tendencies.

In a press statement, the UK secretary of State for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss said: “The 53 member states in the Commonwealth boast a combined population of over 2.4 billion people and intra-Commonwealth trade is projected to reach $700 billion by next year.”

This trade is expected to be buoyed by rapid growth of population and per capita income, particularly in developing country members in Asia.

Speaking on the increasing trade, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We see intra-Commonwealth trade expanding too, and by working together we can agree and implement policy options so that within the next decade it reaches the $2 trillion goal set by our heads of government in 2018.”

Truss however, noted that the global outlook on trade is changing rapidly and the commonwealth was now facing the ever-present challenge of a rise in protectionist tendencies.

“Together, the Commonwealth member countries can help to fight against protectionism and promote a transparent, inclusive, fair and open rules-based multilateral trading system,” added Ms Truss.

She also expressed hope that the commonwealth trade ministers meeting in London will “help build on the progress made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last year, as we seek to take advantage of new opportunities with some of our oldest friends.”

The Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting will take place on 10 October, following three days of discussions among senior trade officials from 7 to 9 October.

Chaired by the United Kingdom, the focus will be on strengthening multilateral trade, fighting protectionism, and progressing efforts to achieve $2 trillion worth of trade within the Commonwealth by 2030.

Ministers will also reflect on how to engage more women and youth to make trade more inclusive and on how to develop the blue and green economy to make trade more sustainable.

They will also review the progress made under the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda – an initiative launched by heads of government last year to support economic growth, job creation, and the sharing of best practices and learning among members.

The outcomes of the meeting will shape trade-related discussions at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled for June 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda.