Business leaders and high-level policymakers will join forces for the first India-Commonwealth Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) trade summit. Three hundred Indian firms and more than 100 businesses from across the Commonwealth will be in one room in Delhi on the 30 and 31 May 2017 to enhance trade and investment partnerships.
"The Commonwealth has some of the fastest growing countries in the world. In fact, growth over the past two decades is more than double that in the European Union," said Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj. "But intra-Commonwealth trade amounts to only 17 per cent of Commonwealth members global trade, and services trade has a much smaller share, only one-quarter of the total intra-Commonwealth trade. This is where the summit could help."
Growth in the Commonwealth has accelerated over the past two decades recording 5 per cent in 2015 compared to less than 2 per cent in the EU. Since 2005 the share of the Commonwealth in the world's gross domestic product (GDP) has increased and has overtaken the share of the EU. The growth in the Commonwealth is also supported by strong favourable demographics.
The Commonwealth Secretariat's head of trade competitiveness, Rashmi Banga said, "The summit will bring together high-level policymakers and business leaders from Commonwealth member states to identify existing trade and investment opportunities.
"It'll be an ideal opportunity for them to discuss ways to harness the huge untapped potential as well as common interests and concerns on topical trade issues."
Among the topics to be discussed are Brexit, deepening intra-Commonwealth trade, trade facilitation in services and cross-border e-commerce.
"What's exciting and different about this summit," continued Mr Maharaj, "is that the high-level policymaker's plenary sessions will be followed by business-to-business meetings between Commonwealth companies. Desks will be allocated to registered firms for business meetings with interested trade partners. They'll be pitching to one another for bilateral business opportunities."
A Commonwealth SME cooperation framework will be discussed by high level policymakers and association heads, leading to a declaration on the possible way forward.
Business will be focused in sectors. For example, textiles and clothing; gems and jewellery; leather and leather products; agro-processed products; low-tech machineries and mechanical appliances; packaging; and information and communication technology; to name but a few.
At the same time, the Technology Platform will give opportunities to Commonwealth businesses to make a presentation of their latest inventions that they want to sell. Companies are being encouraged to share low-cost technologies, and green technologies in particular, within the Commonwealth.
The Innovation Platform, sponsored by the Haydn Green Institution for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HGI), in partnership with University of Nottingham in the UK, will provide an opportunity to Commonwealth businesses to present their ground-breaking ideas. This is the ideal showcase for start-ups, young entrepreneurs and students to try to commercialise their innovative ideas.
The summit is the first, and a unique, opportunity for Commonwealth countries to bring their strengths together, to deepen their trade and investment engagement and increase their share of the global trade pie.