Economic Growth, Trade & Investment

The Commonwealth helps member countries take advantage of economic growth and improve their ability to manage long-term development. Building resilience and supporting inclusive economic growth are key objectives. The Commonwealth champions a rules-based multilateral trading system as one of the most important ways to achieve development and economic growth for the poorest, smallest, and most vulnerable countries.

Indeed, trade is the lifeblood of the Commonwealth, serving as a major contributor to output, growth, employment and livelihoods for all of the 52 member countries. Our publications and events encourage Commonwealth members to unlock the enormous opportunity of their collective trade potential as they seek to realise their development aspirations.

Today’s Commonwealth also embraces some of the fastest growing economies and most lucrative new consumer markets on earth. India, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria and South Africa are the new trade giants. In turn they form gateways to the other rising markets of Asia (in particular China) and of African and the Indian and Pacific oceans as vital and rich new trade routes and supply chains are opening up.

Intra-Commonwealth trade is already worth around $600 billion – built upon the advantages of a common language, shared legal principals and a commitment to inherent values and rights. These are advantages that provide solid foundations for doing business and platform for trade, investment, development and in turn prosperity. This ‘Commonwealth effect’ is estimated to be worth between 20 and 50 per cent in trade advantage.

Yet, despite the Commonwealth’s unique advantages, only 14 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product is generated by its members. There is clearly huge scope to unlock this potential. But for Commonwealth trade and prosperity to reach its full economic potential, businesses must operate in an environment where there is rule of law, freedom of speech and human rights. Commonwealth Governments need to demonstrate this to attract investment, promote enterprise and improve the business environment.

Did you know?

  • The combined gross domestic product of Commonwealth member countries is predicted to reach US$14 trillion by 2020.

  • Trade between Commonwealth countries is estimated at over $680 billion today and projected to surpass $1 trillion by 2020.

  • Commonwealth members’ combined exports of goods and services are valued at $3.4 trillion, which is about 15 per cent of the world’s total exports.

Source: Commonwealth Secretariat. See more at