The Commonwealth forms a diverse group of 53 countries including developed, developing and the least developed countries (LDCs). It is also a mixture of large countries - such as India - and small island nations.
These markets offer a wealth of opportunities to UK businesses in all sectors - from agriculture to Information Technology. You can bid for contracts funded by aid agencies for developing and LDCs. You can also subcontract to larger businesses trading with Commonwealth countries.
The UK has close relations with the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth secretariat is in London. The European Union (EU) also has close ties with Commonwealth countries.
The UK and the Commonwealth agree on the general benefits of reducing barriers to trade, but the Commonwealth works to ensure that developing countries - especially least developed and small countries - are not unfairly exposed to trade competition from larger, richer countries.
The Commonwealth gives preferential trade access to its member countries, including the UK.
Commonwealth countries are also part of several regional trade groups, including:
- the North American Free Trade Agreement
- Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries, which have a trade and aid agreement with the EU
- the African Union
- the Association of South East Asian Nations
- the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation
- the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas
The EU and the UK have trade agreements with most of these organisations.
The Department for International Trade provides country profiles, lists business opportunities, organises trade missions and exhibitions, and provides assistance for small businesses.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) also provides practical advice on importing and exporting.