President Ramaphosa attends the Commonwealth gathering in London

South Africa is still singing the same song that it sung at Davos.
President Cyril Ramaphosa pays a courtesy call on Her Majesty the Queen at the Windsor Castle ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which commenced on Monday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will be attending the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), accompanied by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation (Lindiwe Sisulu), Finance (Nhlanhla Nene) and Trade and Industry (Rob Davies). Their message to the CHOGM is that “South Africa is open for business and is an investment destination of choice”.

Read: Ramaphosa targets R1.2tr investment in South Africa

The CHOGM, themed “Towards a common future”, commenced on April 16 2018. It is the largest conference that the UK has ever hosted, and will bring together 53 nations.

This biennial summit has an optimistic ambition, the leaders will attend working sessions to discuss shared global challenges, engage in frank discussion, and set the course for future Commonwealth co-operation.

But this isn’t all. Meeting on a single day, the leaders will discuss shared agendas, forge important new partnerships and celebrate common interests. They are expected to deliver a plan for a future that is more sustainable, fair, secure, and prosperous.

Even 12 hours is not enough time for 53 countries to meet, mingle, and come up with solutions to global problems to ensure a better future. And none of this is possible without solving the ever-widening Gini coefficient. No doubt the one-day meeting will have a very tight agenda. Even so, allowing for introductions (30 minutes), teas and lunch (two hours), presentations of the four topics (one hour), five minutes for each of the 53 delegates (four-and-a-half hours), it comes to eight hours.

However, the UK’s main objective would surely be life after Brexit, which is less than 12 months away. This means that the UK will want to talk trade. The UK will also not miss the opportunity to advertise London as the financial centre of the world, and encourage investment into the UK. This may swamp any attempts by Commonwealth countries to advertise their strengths and entice foreign direct investment.

The United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community in January 1973, turning its back on the Commonwealth. With Brexit looming the Commonwealth countries should be concerned with negotiating new bilateral trade agreements with the UK. They should also bear in mind that whereas the UK will expect the Commonwealth countries to uphold the banner of free trade, this may not necessarily apply to the UK as it turns inwards and mounts a protective trade barrier, particularly with regard to agricultural goods.

Today, many Commonwealth countries are on a stronger footing to negotiate more favourable trade treaties with the UK. However, the UK will no doubt follow a pecking order in reestablishing a post-Brexit relationship with the Commonwealth countries, placing India, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand at the top. It is also debatable whether trade with the Commonwealth could ever replace trade with the EU. In today’s globalised world, it is not possible to separate trade and labour mobility, and some countries may demand work visas in exchange for opening up their markets.

Despite the heavy schedule and conflicting agendas, the conference will also include four forum events, to be held during the week. Representatives from business and civil society will join government heads:

  1. Commonwealth Business Forum: Increase intra-Commonwealth trade and reduce the cost of doing business between member countries.
  2. Commonwealth People’s Forum: Provide a platform for civil society to engage with leaders and influence policy, celebrate shared values and cultures and highlight diversity.
  3. Commonwealth Youth Forum: Afford the youth a voice by providing the opportunity to build cross-cultural connections and networks, identify and debate the challenges, and spearhead initiatives to influence decision makers.
  4. Commonwealth Women’s Forum: Deliberate on the global challenges faced by women and highlight the positive contributions women have made in the political, economic and societal arenas.

Opening the Commonwealth Business Forum on Monday, the prime minister, Theresa May, announced that the UK will be funding an all-new Commonwealth Standards Network. The UK will also fund a Trade Facilitation Programme. This will provide technical assistance to selected Commonwealth countries in implementing the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Many of the Commonwealth countries are using the week to forge links. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya opened the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday. He will also be meeting with the management of the LSE Group and will address investors on opportunities in Kenya.

According to the Times of India, the UK would like India to play a more important role in the Commonwealth, and Prime Minister Modi received a personal letter addressed to him by Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth.

However, South Africa is still singing the same song that it sung at the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2018. At such a packed, eventful summit with nations competing to get the UK’s individual attention, it will have to embark on some positive action to get anyone to listen.

 

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It would be wonderful to have lots of money invested in SA from the business investors from the Commonwealth nations, but those investors are very smart and that is why they are successful. They will judge the ANC Cadre who change the rules and the history of events according to their desires of the moment from time to time to suit whoever it is has a turn to feed at the trough. Those investors should take cognisance of the past history of State Capture, the lack of the ruling party’s desire to stem the rot by siding with those who were dipping their fingers in the cookie jar, our extreme tough one sided labour laws, the punitive intent to deal with the Land distribution crisis on the basis of ‘No Compensation’ ideas, the constant ongoing multiple strikes in the country, the chameleon attitudes of past and present MP’s who have to cover their tracks along with the Zuma State Capture saga, the high taxation in SA, the pass rates for school leavers of around 30%, the continual land grab episodes, the excessively inflated number of Government officials in executive positions including 9 provinces ( which could be reduced to 3 or 4 provinces almost by decree, the high crime situation in the country and the lack of speed and extreme high cost of our legal and Judicial system amongst other things. Foreign investors have lots to think about and many options available to them without the South African risks. They will assess and choose wisely to prevent their investments being eroded by cash hungry politicians with their own agendas.

well said sweetpea .Cyril speaks with forked tongue ,one for the intl. community and the other when he is grinding the local political organ with
Monkey- Malema in tow Amandla

Britain is trying to keep its own economy afloat so I very much doubt that they’re going to be much help. However, they can teach us a lesson or two in how not to go down the road of encouraging a social grants system – the quickest way to bankrupt a country where the minorities carry the load.
But full marks to Cyril for giving it a go.

End of comments.

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