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The Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last week to collaborate on key areas of development.
Key areas of focus in the MoU include women’s economic empowerment, digital trade and e-commerce, private sector and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) development, climate change and environment protection, capacity building for trade negotiations and trade finance. The virtual signing ceremony was held during a high-level bilateral meeting between the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC and ITFC CEO, Eng Hani Salem Sonbol.
At the signing ceremony, Secretary-General Scotland said: “Both the Commonwealth and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation share the objective of strengthening and supporting the economic and development aspirations of our member states. Our collaboration will provide us with increased opportunities and improved access to tap into our collective ideas, knowledge, skills and combined financial resources to serve our common members’ development needs. The six agreed areas of cooperation along with our combined advocacy and convening power can provide vital support for the recovery of our developing and small states which are the most vulnerable to global economic disruptions.”
Commenting on the signing, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, Chief Executive Officer of ITFC, said: “I’m really glad to see that ITFC’s partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat is a partnership of action. While we celebrate signing a new Memorandum of Understanding, we are also officializing the first two projects ready for implementation in Cameroon and Pakistan.”
Recognizing the role of partnerships in furthering trade development, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol said: “At ITFC, our goal is to work effectively with our partners to identify and offer the best solutions, in all areas of trade finance and trade development, including seizing opportunities that manifest in emerging trade issues such as digitalization, agricultural technology and climate change to name a few.”
There are twelve common member states between the two organisations which shows a significant common interest. These countries include Cameroon, Gambia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Guyana, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives, Brunei, and Malaysia.
A project highlighted in the MoU between the Commonwealth Secretariat and ITFC include a trade development project in Pakistan that enhances the overall trade competitiveness of the country by building the capacity of Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce and improving their overall trade negotiations skills. Another agreed initiative is a digital bootcamp that will be held in Cameroon to support the government’s e-commerce strategy through capacity-building programs that support women and SMEs. Approximately 100 women-owned SMEs are expected to be beneficiaries of this programme.
Through this collaboration, the Commonwealth Secretariat and ITFC aim to help create decent jobs, increase trade and greener economies for the benefit of all but especially for women and SMEs.