CommonwealthFirst has been established by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) with a mission to encourage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to trade and invest across the Commonwealth; a market comprising 53 English speaking countries with a combined population of 2.2 billion – at least 60% of whom are under the age of 30 – and a combined GDP of approximately US$9.6 trillion.
The Commonwealth Factor, with its shared language, complementary legal systems and business practices, helps to reduce trade cost by around 19% cheaper between member countries. By 2020 Commonwealth trade is expected to double to US$1 trillion.
Over three years 100 leading UK SMEs will be selected to become Commonwealth Export Champions. Through intensive training, mentoring, trade missions and business development support, Export Champions will be supported in their quest to win new business in the fast growing Commonwealth markets. Their success will be showcased as an encouragement to the wider business community to make greater use of the Commonwealth network.
The CommonwealthFirst website provides support for all businesses looking to trade and invest in Commonwealth countries, as well as an e-commerce platform powered by Royal Mail (available later).
The vision is to expand the programme to businesses in other Commonwealth countries after the initial three-year focus on UK SMEs.
“CommonwealthFirst is an enormous step forward in helping us to achieve our mission of helping Governments and the private sector to understand and utilise the Commonwealth network.”
– Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council
“CommonwealthFirst will complement the UK Government’s efforts in helping UK companies to think internationally. This initiative will enable us to deliver on the potential of the Commonwealth network for UK businesses – something that we have overlooked for too long.”
– Lord Maude, Former UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment
“Royal Mail is committed to helping UK SMEs trade and invest internationally. CommonwealthFirst offers a unique platform to bring our exporting expertise to bear and build on the historic connections between our countries in a rapidly changing business landscape.”
– Nick Landon, Managing Director, Royal Mail Parcels