The UK will host the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) in April next year after a gap of over 20 years as the 52-nation grouping seeks to devise shared approaches to the opportunities and challenges facing it.
India prime minister Narendra Modi is expected to be among the Commonwealth leaders from over 50 countries to attend the summit, which will include Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle Queen as venues for the first time.
The Commonwealth Summit is held every two years and the 2018 CHOGM will see the UK take over from Malta as chair of the heads of government until 2020.
Last time the UK had hosted the CHOGM in 1997.
“The wonderful thing about the Commonwealth is that we are a family of 52 nations spreading across six regions. What motivates us as a family, and what has guided us, are the shared aims of good governance, sustainable growth, and inclusive social and economic development, aided by our common language, common laws, common parliamentary and other institutions, as well as our cultural ties,” said Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland, as she prepares to host her first-ever CHOGM.
She added: “We are singularly well-placed and have connections and mechanisms which can help us devise shared approaches to the opportunities and challenges we face together.”
“I’ve found that there’s always a spirit of goodwill, which makes it possible to work collaboratively and get straight to the nub of a matter when it is considered within a Commonwealth setting and by Commonwealth partners.
“This is what the Commonwealth Summit, held in the UK, will reinforce, a true global partnership to tackle the issues facing us today and come up with solutions.”
The Commonwealth is home to 2.4 billion people, a third of the world’s population and comprising developed and developing countries.
At a Commonwealth Ministerial Roundtable last week, attended by Indian commerce secretary Rita Teaotia along with representatives from 40 member states, it was agreed that a key aim will be to increase intra-Commonwealth trade, building on the so-called “Commonwealth advantage”.
Trade among Commonwealth countries is projected to increase to $1 trillion by 2020.
The UK has been proactively increasing its trade focus on the Commonwealth as it prepares its exit from the European Union (EU).