2017 was an excellent year for the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion programme, which grew from strengh-to-strength. We welcomed two new cohorts of Export Champions, visited three countries and are now looking forward to shortly announcing our fourth cohort of UK SMEs in the New Year.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody involved in the programme either as participants or supporters and very much look forward working with you all in the New Year. Below is a selection from some of our key highlights in 2017.
Photos from the first day of the Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting which took place at Lancaster House, London on 9th March 2017
The inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting took place at Lancaster House in London on 9-10 March 2017 in advance of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the UK. The objective was to reaffirm the commitment of Commonwealth member countries to a “transparent free and fair multilateral trading system,” and to define an ambitious Commonwealth led “Agenda for Growth” to promote trade, investment and job creation in member countries. This will support the target of increasing intra-Commonwealth trade to US$1 trillion by 2020.
The recommendation to hold the Meeting was an outcome of the Commonwealth Business Forum in Malta in November 2015. All countries are currently seeking to establish new trading relationships at a time of stagnating global trade. With a population of 2.3 billion, a combined economy of more than US$10 trillion and annual GDP growth in excess of 4%, the Commonwealth provides a perfect platform for achieving these aims. At present there is no inter-governmental coordination to help unlock the trade and investment potential of the Commonwealth – something that the meeting of Ministers seeks to address.
The Ministers Meeting discussed areas where the Commonwealth can work together to strengthen trade and investment links between member countries and develop a policy agenda ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Meeting had a particular focus on exploring the Commonwealth Factor – understanding how the shared values of the Commonwealth as well as language, institutions, similar legal and regulatory systems, etc. make average trade costs 19% lower between Commonwealth countries and how countries can better exploit this advantage to deliver sustainable trade and development.
Recruitment for the third cohort of Commonwealth Export Champions opened today as Trade Ministers from the 52 member countries meet at Lancaster House, London. The latest intake of 26 SME cohorts have been selected according to their export growth potential and will participate in a series of trade missions with the next one scheduled for Malaysia and Singapore in May 2017.
CommonwealthFirst is the brainchild of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC). Its mission is to encourage small and medium enterprises to trade and invest across the Commonwealth. The inaugural round of Export Champions attended the high profile India-UK Tech Summit, Delhi in November which coincided with Theresa May’s first overseas visit as prime minister.
Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council (CWEIC), and the driving body behind CommonwealthFirst said, “The Indian trade mission was a major success. It provided some of the UKs finest small firms with fantastic exposure in one of the world’s fastest growing economies. We are keen to build on this and today’s event provides the ideal setting to further showcase the importance of SMEs as stimulators of sustainable economic growth. At a time when trade is under the spotlight, it is encouraging to see such high-quality export-ready small businesses coming forward to take part in this ambitious programme.”
The Trade Ministers Meeting plans to discuss areas where the Commonwealth can strengthen trade and investment links between member countries and develop a coherent policy agenda ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Meeting has a particular focus on exploiting the ‘Commonwealth Factor’ whereby average trading costs are estimated to be 19% lower between Commonwealth countries as a result of commonalities around language, cultural ties, shared values and similar legal, institutional and regulatory systems.
SMEs can apply to become a CommonwealthFirst Export Champion via: www.commonwealthfirst.org
Applications close on 5th June and the third cohort will be announced in July 2017.