Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 April 2018:
Sierra Leone may benefit from a new US $100 million Commonwealth Trade Finance Credit Facility which is aimed at ensuring that smaller nations within the Commonwealth have access to global markets, says State House Communications Unit.
With the economy of Sierra Leone suffering from low growth, due to recent falls in iron ore prices and poor governance, there is serious need for the Bio government to restructure the economy through industrial diversification that could broaden the country’s taxation base.
But this will require massive investment in existing and new industries. It is estimated that Sierra Leone needs about $500 million investment in its energy, water, fishing, agriculture, forestry and tourism sectors, if it is to create the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are needed to address chronic levels of long-term unemployment and poverty.
The Commonwealth Trade Finance Credit Facility is one of many measures discussed during the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at the Lancaster House in London on Wednesday 18th April 2018.
The meeting was attended by Professor David J Francis who is the chairman of the Governance Transition Team established by president Bio to carry out an audit of all government assets and how they have been managed by the outgoing Koroma government.
Professor Francis was at the meeting where he acted as the accredited Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
During the session on Trade and Investment, two other critical issues discussed were how Commonwealth countries will have market access to the United Kingdom and other global markets in the post-Brexit period; and removing trading barriers amongst Commonwealth countries.
One important commitment that was also made during the session by the Australian Foreign Minister was that, 20% of the Australian Government Foreign Aid will be dedicated to develop the capacity of developing Commonwealth countries for trade negotiations.
As a trading bloc, the combined gross national income of all Commonwealth States is 10.7 trillion US dollars. Global trade amongst Commonwealth States is currently estimated at 680 billion US dollars and by 2020 is projected to increase to 1 trillion US dollars.
Therefore, the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment has been developed to provide a platform for policymakers and regulators from across the Commonwealth to explore new ideas, best practices and share experiences that facilitate trade as investment.
The Commonwealth Foreign Ministers session was chaired by Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
After the session, Professor David J Francis also had pleasantry exchanges with both the UK Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Boris Johnson and the Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland, State House Media and Communications Unit reports.