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Commonwealth Business Forum launched in London ahead of CHOGM in Colombo

2013 Aug 10

High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Dr. Chris Nonis held a launch event at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London to promote the Commonwealth Business Forum to be held in Colombo from 12-14 November 2013, leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013.
Dr. Nonis said that Sri Lanka is a microcosm of the Contemporary Commonwealth and was one of the eight founder member Nations of the modern Commonwealth.
Sri Lanka achieved peace in the country under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and CHOGM 2013 in Sri Lanka is a wonderful opportunity for all Heads, Foreign Ministers and their delegations, and the world’s media to see for themselves the reality of contemporary Sri Lanka.

The theme ‘Partnering for Wealth Creation and Social Development; The Commonwealth, Indian Ocean and SAARC’ is in consonance with the policy of the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ to ensure that all communities reap the dividends of economic growth. The Commonwealth Business Forum would play a significant role in encouraging pan-Commonwealth trade and investment, and would also ensure that substantial economic dividends would accrue to Sri Lanka.
He thanked all the London-based Commonwealth High Commissioners who comprise the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Secretariat and sit with him and have regular dialogue on Commonwealth issues at Marlborough House. He said they always worked together in the spirit of unity and friendship, because they have a depth and breadth of understanding that all Commonwealth countries are at different stages of development.
Dr. Nonis congratulated Prince William and the Duchess on the birth of the new royal baby and proposed a toast to HRH Prince George of Cambridge on behalf of the President and people of Sri Lanka.
Dr. Nonis welcomed over 170 guests who included Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth; the Commonwealth High Commissioners; representatives of Prince Charles’ office at Clarence House; Princess Katerina; Sheikh Makhtoum of UAE; Prince Ali Khan; Lord Howell of Guildford, Chairman of Council of Commonwealth Societies; Lord Rogan of Lower Iveagh; Lord Dholakia; Baroness Greengross; Lord Loomba; Sir Alan Greengross; James Wharton MP, Mark Menzies MP, Charles Tannock MEP, Tim Yeo MP, Eaun Blair, Mayoress Stainton, Sir Desmond de Silva QC, PC, Harendra de Silva QC, and members of the Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council.
Representatives from British Industry and Commerce including Chris Gibson-Smith, Chairman of the London Stock Exchange; Sir Thomas Harris, Standard Chartered Bank; De La Rue; HSBC; Crown Agents; Habib Bank; Marks and Spencer; GlaxoSmithKline; UK Department of Trade and Industry; the London Chamber of Commerce; CIMA; private equity funds; fund managers; and members of the Commonwealth Business Council. In addition, representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the British Asian Trust; Youth Enterprise UK; the Commonwealth Foundation; and representatives from British Universities and the British Council attended.
Representatives from several civil society organisations included Cheryll Dorall, Commonwealth Journalists Association; Patsy Robertson, Ramphal Institute for Commonwealth Policy Studies; Mark Robinson, Commonwealth Consortium for Education; Michael Lawrence, Asia House; Tim Unwin, Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation; Judy Curry, Commonwealth Education Trust; Sir Peter Heap, Friends of Sri Lanka; Neville Greene, Royal Society for Asian Affairs; and the Commonwealth Countries League.
Dr. Nonis articulated the depth of passion, and sense of duty of Queen Elizabeth for the Commonwealth. He warmly welcomed Prince Charles and the Duchess to Sri Lanka and spoke about how Prince Charles had visited over 30 Commonwealth countries, represented the Queen at the Commonwealth Games, and visited Sri Lanka in 1998 for the 50th celebration of Sri Lanka’s independence, and two months following the tsunami in 2005.
He spoke of two of the Prince’s Trusts which are working in Sri Lanka, Youth Business International; and the British Asian Trust, of which Dr. Nonis said he was privileged to be heading the Sri Lanka Advisory Council.
Peter Callaghan, Director General of the Commonwealth Business Forum, made a presentation on the Commonwealth Business Forum. He highlighted that several Commonwealth Heads had already confirmed they would be speaking at the Forum, which was expecting over 1,000 delegates, in addition to their attendance at CHOGM.
He also spoke about the economic value that would accrue in the wake of the CBF in Colombo, and the quantum of investments that have arisen from previous Commonwealth Business Forums held in Africa, the Caribbean countries and Australia. He also discussed the proposals for investment available in Sri Lanka and the potential for expansion of all sectors and pan-commonwealth trade.
Dr. Nonis thanked all those who had taken the trouble to go and see for themselves the progress in Sri Lanka, and welcomed all those present to CHOGM or the three parallel fora, the Commonwealth Business Forum; Commonwealth Youth Forum; and Commonwealth People’s Forum, and join in Sri Lanka’s renaissance.

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