Launch of ‘CommonwealthFirst’ at Malta Commonwealth Business Forum

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Helping SMEs trade and invest across the Commonwealth.

On the first day of the 2015 Commonwealth Business Forum in Malta, Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) announced that Royal Mail had agreed to become the anchor sponsor of CommonwealthFirst – a major new initiative to help SMEs trade and invest across the Commonwealth in partnership with i-genius.

Initially piloted in the UK, CommonwealthFirst will select 100 leading export-ready SMEs over three years and provide intensive support to help kick-start their trade and investment journey by leveraging the Commonwealth network.

Exploiting the opportunities in fast growing Commonwealth markets, combined with the advantage of shared language, legal systems and business practices, CommonwealthFirst will highlight the enormous potential of the network for trade and investment to the wider business community.

It is estimated that trade costs between Commonwealth countries are on average 19% lower than between non-Commonwealth countries.

Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council said “this 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. We are extremely grateful to Royal Mail for their support and leadership.”

Lord Maude, UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment welcomed the announcement “CommonwealthFirst will complement the UK Governments efforts to help UK companies to think internationally. This initiative will help us to deliver on the potential of the Commonwealth network for UK businesses – something that we have overlooked for too long.”

Nick Landon, Managing Director, Royal Mail Parcels said “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.”

CommonwealthFirst will include a wider web platform providing advice and support to SMEs looking to expand into Commonwealth markets and with the support Royal Mail will in due course evolve into a thriving online market place.

It is expected that the CommonwealthFirst model will be replicated in countries across the Commonwealth helping to fulfill the full potential of this network for SMEs. The programme will be led by the CWEIC with the support of i-genius and partner organisations. The selection process is expected to begin in January and the first CommonwealthFirst cohort will be announced in April 2015.

For further information about CommonwealthFirst please contact: John Pemberton-Pigott, Director of Programmes, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, john@cweic.org

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