New webinar series shines a spotlight on the Commonwealth Advantage

24 October 2022
Shipping containers

As part of the ongoing 2022 Commonwealth Games Business & Tourism Programme (BATP), the United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade (DIT) is hosting a series of market awareness webinars targeting both businesses new to exporting and experienced exporters, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), seeking new market opportunities.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is working with the DIT to highlight the significance of the Commonwealth Advantage and show how it can be harnessed by businesses to expand trade, establish supply chains and invest across 56 Commonwealth markets, the majority of whom share familiar history, language, legal and administrative systems.

The webinar series follows from a ‘Going for Gold’ event hosted by HSBC on the side-lines of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in August, where selected companies shared their experiences on ‘how to win new business overseas’.

A segment of the event unpacked the ‘Commonwealth Opportunity’ with Commonwealth High Commissioners and representatives from the Secretariat discussing the role of businesses in driving the resilient and growing trade advantage identified in the Commonwealth Trade Review. Business operators at the ‘Going for Gold’ event were eager to learn more about accessing these trading opportunities available within Commonwealth markets.  

Speaking at the event, Dr Neil Balchin, Economic Adviser in the International Trade Policy Section at the Commonwealth Secretariat said:

“The latest statistical evidence at the country level shows that bilateral trade costs are, on average, 21 per cent lower between Commonwealth countries compared to when they trade with non-Commonwealth partners. This is driven by the shared history, language, common legal systems, similar administrative practices and large and dynamic diaspora networks within the Commonwealth, all of which help to reduce the cost of conducting business across borders.”

A focus of the recent Birmingham Commonwealth Games was to support the role of local authorities in expanding international trade opportunities. To complement this focus, last week DIT hosted a webinar focusing on the benefits of the Commonwealth Advantage and how local governments can assist SMEs and enable economic development in all localities outside major cities and capitals.

This resonates across the Commonwealth, where economic activities can vary widely within and between regions and localities, and where there is a need for localised economic strategies to support SMEs.

Speaking about the importance of the webinar, Andy Smith, International Relationships Manager for DIT, Midlands, and moderator of the webinars said:

“Hosting the Games this summer really brought the Commonwealth to life in the Midlands,” says. Through the BATP, we and regional partners have been striving to encourage local firms, and those across the UK, to take a closer look at the real and varied opportunities across Commonwealth markets and to capitalise on the cost savings conferred through the Commonwealth Advantage.”

Panellist Shafquat Haider, Vice Chair of the Intra-Commonwealth SME Association (ICSA) said:

“SMEs are the backbone of all developing economies. Helping SMEs find a route to the market is implicit in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. With a multitude of challenges facing SMEs across Commonwealth countries, such as capital shortages, insufficient skills and knowledge to export and high transport costs, the Commonwealth accredited organisations can play an important role in facilitating access to marketplaces to do business and trade. Leveraging the opportunities provided by ICT is imperative to promote the competitiveness of SMEs in a global context.”

In order to realise trade opportunities within Commonwealth countries, the Secretariat launched the ICSA in 2016 to provide a sustainable platform for exporters and importers to meet, build awareness and encourage regional and global investments.

Furthermore, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Trade Competitiveness Section implements programmes that help to accelerate women’s entrepreneurship and support women-owned or operated businesses as these are critically important to further strengthen the Commonwealth Advantage and harness the potential for Commonwealth trade to support inclusive growth and development.

The combined value of intra-Commonwealth trade in goods and services reached US$768 billion in 2021 and is forecast to exceed US$1 trillion by 2026. With a resilient and growing Commonwealth Advantage, there remains considerable scope to develop new and deeper forms of economic cooperation across the Commonwealth and, in the process, capitalise on the immense opportunities to grow business, trade and investment in Commonwealth markets.

To register for future country-specific webinars on business and exporting opportunities across a range of Commonwealth Markets, please sign up here.

Media contact

  • Rena Gashumba  Communications Adviser, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • T: +44 7483 919 968  |  E-mail