Commonwealth Association: Trade & Business meeting, 30 April 2015

Commonwealth trade meetingThe Birmingham Commonwealth Association Trade and Business meeting at Mills and Reeves offices in Colmore Row had three principal foci:

– Receive an update on the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail connection between London and Birmingham and the future of Birmingham Curzon Street International Station.

– Discuss emerging trade opportunities with South Africa, including a live link-up with UKTI representatives in South Africa.

– Networking opportunities for attendees.


Birmingham Curzon St International Station

Gary Woodward, Principal Development Planning Officer from Birmingham City Council, presented the on-going project for the development and construction of the new Birmingham Curzon station, and the construction of HS2, and the impact on Birmingham in terms of the area’s regeneration and growth, and the opportunities for investment.

The arrival of HS2 to Birmingham will provide a catalyst for regeneration and growth unparalleled in recent times. A completely new international station will place the City at a gateway to both the UK and European high-speed rail network. Birmingham is ready to capitalise on the opportunities that HS2 will bring; with our Big City Plan’s vision of a growing City Centre and a wide range of investment and development opportunities. In concrete terms, the project offers Birmingham a unique opportunity to improve not only the travel time to London (49 minutes), but more importantly will increase the capacity of the rail network and ease some of the pressure on the existing infrastructure.  The project certainly is exciting as it is part of a strategic vision for the city which will see not only an improved connection to Birmingham, but also across the city, helping areas such as Eastside to benefit from improved accessibility. The project in numbers is certainly impressive and will result in:

  • £4 billion increase in economic output
  • 50,000 jobs
  • An increase in £680 gross value added per worker

For further information, please visit this website.


South Africa partnership


Johannesburg is one of Birmingham’s partner cities and strong connections exist at a city level. Birmingham and Johannesburg have been politically connected since the early 1980s. Since the 1990s the 2 cities have engaged in a variety of mutually beneficial activities around young people, education at all levels, sport, culture and the management of cities.

The UKTI link-up provided an interesting insight into the economic, social, legal, political and more simply, the dos and don’ts when trading with South Africa.   There is a big drive to boost export; UKTI hopes to help companies to export more and push up the number currently exporting from 1 in 5 to 1 in 4 and, create additional sales (£56bn in 2014/2015) and develop business high value opportunities overseas.

Bilateral trade with South Africa represents £9 billion annually, and it is interesting to note that  4 out of 5 South African companies in Europe are based in the UK. South Africa’s imports from the UK represent 5.5%, worth $6,385,483,234.97. Several business opportunities were identified including:

  • Advanced engineering
  • Agribusiness
  • Creative industries
  • Infrastructure and energy
  • Professional services
  • Iol and gass
  • Food and drink
  • ICT
  • Life sciences
  • Retail.

South Africa is a country with large natural resources and a growing and the most diverse economy in Africa. Its young and growing middle class  is also an opportunity for businesses to reach a large consumption market.


Find out key statistics about the South African market HERE. Document created by the Commonwealth Exchange.