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Commonwealth Business Forum Opens

At the opening of the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) in Perth, there was a strong UK presence with Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Howell and Minster of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green both addressing the forum.

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Lord Howell addresses the Commonwealth Business Forum 2011

Today saw the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) with the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, delivering the keynote address. Representing the UK were Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Howell and Minster of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green who both delivered speeches as part of CBF panel sessions.

On a panel with the Australian Foreign Minister, the hon Kevin Rudd and Vikas Rambal, Chairman of Perdaman Chemicals and Fertilisers, Lord Green delivered a speech on ‘Partnering for Global Growth’. In a wide-ranging address Lord Green looked at the emergence of new economies and the how this was changing the world economic order. He identified free trade as one the biggest driver of the emerging powers revolution saying it “has lifted more people out of poverty in my lifetime than any amount of international aid could have hoped to achieve. In China alone, this figure is a staggering 600 million people.” Lord Green went on to say that: “This presents us with a big opportunity. In the UK, the free trade reflex is hard-wired into the national consciousness. And that will only grow as the emerging powers grow richer.” Read the rest of Lord Green’s speech here.

In a panel on climate change with the Hon Greg Combet, Australian Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Lord Howell delivered a speech entitled ‘Tackling Climate Change and Energy Challenges: A Government Business Partnership’. While speaking about the role of the Commonwealth in combating climate change, Lord Howell said: “Is the Commonwealth up to it? Can it meet this enormous need and enormous challenge? I believe it can.” He stressed the importance of transitioning to a low carbon economy saying: “a low carbon economy is a secure economy.” The Commonwealth provides a good forum for larger economies to help small and developing countries to overcome their energy challenges.

Throughout the rest of the day, Lord Howell attended the Commonwealth and Small States lunch hosted by Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and had a bilateral meeting with the Hon Utoni Nujoma, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Namibia. He also met the Hon Penny Wong, Australian Minister for Finance and Deregulation, who is also responsible for Australia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, with the Australian Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, Martin Ferguson and the Western Australian Energy Minister Peter Collier. Lord Howell also conducted an interview with Business Spectator.

In his jam-packed day, Lord Green hosted a lunch with CEOs from some of the leading UK and Commonwealth companies operating in the resources industry as well as meeting with the Hon Dr Craig Emerson, Australian Minister for Trade and conducting interviews with Lateline Business and The Australian. Lord Green also met with Perth-based company Navitas, which has become a major investor in the UK as it expands its education services business around the world.

He then meet with Federal Minister for Trade, the Hon. Dr Craig Emerson, at which they discussed measures to protect Scotch Whisky’s GI and closer links and future cooperation for UK Trade & Investment and AusTrade. In the evening he attended with Lord Howell UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth the Dinner hosted by Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Julia Gillard, MP.

Lord Green’s final event in Perth was an Australian British Chamber of Commerce business breakfast the following morning at which he spoke on the UK being open for business and gave an update on the Eurozone. Lord Green then answered questions facilitated by Sir Rod Eddington, Chairman of Infrastructure Australia, the fund set up by the previous Federal Government to implement projects for infrastructural investment in Australia.

For photos from day two at the Commonwealth Business Forum please view our Flickr gallery.

Published 25 October 2011