By Khalifa Hemed
Published October 8, 2021
The Commonwealth of Nations has called for greater access to COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries.
Speaking at the UN trade conference, UNCTAD15 in Barbados, Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General, said: “Before we can even speak about recovery, our immediate and most urgent priority must be to ensure greater access to vaccines for developing countries and especially least developed countries. From Africa to Asia and the Caribbean to the Pacific, it is heartening to see regional cooperation and regional solidarity at work to enhance vaccine access and distribution. The task ahead is to galvanise this same spirit of regional solidarity to help ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery.”
Secretary-General Scotland stressed that countries must have a holistic response to responding to the multiple and interlinked global crises of the pandemic, climate change and its economic fallout.
“The Commonwealth spans across five regions. Regional integration allows for pooling of scarce resources and sharing of capacity, knowledge, data and best practices. It can also enhance governance by encouraging countries to converge or harmonise their national laws and policies on a range of issues from anti-corruption to environmental protection,” said Secretary-General Scotland.
The Commonwealth Secretariat works alongside member countries to facilitate regional cooperation, provide technical assistance, build trade competitiveness and diversify economies to take advantage of new trading opportunities – both regionally and globally. Programmes such as the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda support members to strengthen their physical, digital, regulatory, supply-side and business-to-business connectivity by sharing best practices, policies and peer learning.
Joining Secretary-General Scotland on the hybrid virtual and in-person roundtable were Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD; Marsha Caddle, Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment of Barbados; S Kishore, Vice Minister in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India; Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining in the African Union Commission and Eleanor M Fox, Walter J Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation at New York University’s School of Law. The theme of the roundtable was ‘Regional integration for a resilient, inclusive and sustainable future’.