PERTH: One of the world's largest gatherings of business leaders starts in the western Australian city of Perth on Tuesday to push for economic development and good governance in the 54-member Commonwealth, which accounts for almost 20 percent of global wealth.
More than 1,200 delegates, including top business leaders from Pakistan, will participate in the three-day Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) that is targeting to push the slogan of "re-energising globalisation for development" to heads of the member countries at a time when protests are being held across the world against global capitalism and its fallout on the common people.
But CBF leaders in their annual report to the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) said that this is the time for another push towards globalisation under the Doha round of trade talks rather than opting for protectionist market policies.
The report, presented to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday, urged for enhancing trade and investment for shared prosperity among the member countries. In its outline for the "Commonwealth of the Future," the report urged for strengthening the link between CBF and CHOGM and greater participation by heads of government in high-level dialogue with business leaders.
"CBC and the Commonwealth secretariat should coordinate to organise an annual Commonwealth trade and commerce ministers meeting that would allow high-level interaction with the private sector to enhance trade and economic growth," the report said.
"The Commonwealth is now a grouping of mature economies and English-speaking democracies. It is time for us to take advantage of the Commonwealth's past successes and leverage the, alongside the 'Commonwealth Factor' of common system of government, language and business practices," it added.
Dr. Mohan Kaul, the director-general and chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) - the organiser of the CBF - told a select gathering of business leaders at a pre-forum dinner on Monday that more than 200 speakers from various corners of the world will discuss a wide range of economic issues and innovative ideas in 40 sessions over the next three days.
Several thousand meetings will be held and hundreds of investment projects will be discussed on the sidelines of the CBF, said Kaul. CBF organisers say that around $10 billion business deals are expected to conclude over the next three days in which business leaders from several non-Commonwealth countries, including China are also participating.
Pakistan is being represented by senior business leaders including Mian Mohmmad Mansha, Razzak Dawood, Salim Ghauri, Haji Ghulam Ali and Tara Uzra Dawood.
Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar will be among the handful of those distinguished women participants, who will speak at the CBF and chair a special session on Pakistan's trade and investment potential, which is planned for Thursday, October 27. The session is seen as one of the high points of the CBF in which Ms Khar will help frame and present a case for Pakistan as a big market and investment destination.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and top Pakistani officials will attend the CHOGM that will start on Friday, October 28 after the conclusion of CBF.
The Commonwealth, born in 1948 following the slow dismantling of the British Empire, has seen trade jump to $3 trillion among its member countries in 2010 from $2 trillion in 1997. Pakistan, the founder member of Commonwealth, is its second biggest member country in terms of population following India.
Textiles, information technology, engineering and food industry are the key sectors in which Pakistan would like to strike business deals and attract investment, the organisers said.
It is after a long time that the Commonwealth will focus on trade and investment in Pakistan rather than democracy and military rule, which will help in pushing the country's economic agenda on this important forum.
Meanwhile, earlier on Monday, Mian Mohammad Mansha was unanimously elected to the 18-member board of this important forum, which also has representatives from Canada, UK, India, South Africa and Australia.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
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