Renew Commonwealth links now, says Birmingham Chamber president

By Simon Penfold | Business Picks | Published:

It’s time for Greater Birmingham and the rest of the UK to renew links with 52 largely forgotten countries, 150 delegates were told at the launch of the Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce (GBCCC).

Paul Kehoe speaking at the launch of Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Kehoe, president of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), was speaking at the event, hosted by Aston University, the first patrons of the GBCCC.

He told an audience from a wide spectrum of Greater Birmingham business and academia, along with dignitaries from Commonwealth countries: “We need to recognise our place in the world and shout about it. Brexit will not close the door on Europe and we should be renewing our links with 52 countries we have largely forgotten about.

“This is a proud city that makes things happen and has a great future that we are starting to shout about. The Commonwealth is going to make this country change and with HS2 coming Birmingham is going to be at the centre of that new network.

“It will make us a better place to come and do business. Birmingham’s time is coming and we are fortunate to be part of it – ensuring Birmingham’s future is bright.”

John Crabtree, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, endorsed the role Birmingham must now play and said: “We want to try to reverse a modest Birmingham by using the assets we have.

“Top among those is the fact that warmth and welcome is in our DNA so it’s important that we try to bring nations together in this city.”

Keith Stokes-Smith, the first president of the GBCCC, said: “The Commonwealth always has been and always will be an important club. It has to be relevant and should be about the future rather than the past.

“Brexit clearly puts the Commonwealth back on the map. When Commonwealth countries trade with each other, costs are reduced, mainly because of common law structures.”


Professor Alec Cameron, vice-chancellor of Aston University, said: “Aston is immensely proud to be the first patron of the GBCCC along with our patronage of the GBCC and the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce.

“Aston is a truly global university. Around 20 per cent of our students are international and contribute to business and the local community when they study in this city. There is huge potential to strengthen our relations with the Commonwealth.”

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said: “We are grateful to Paul Kehoe for inspiring the creation of the GBCCC and I’m delighted that we have a really strong executive committee.

“A number of leading figures in the region have stepped forward. They can lead the way to fulfilling the necessity of doing more business with the Commonwealth.”

Guests from Commonwealth countries who praised the launch of the GBCCC included Kofi Addo, Ghana’s head of trade and investment; Moemedi Mokgosi, Botswana’s higher commissioner; Muhammed Zulqar Nain, the Bangladesh assistant high commissioner in the Midlands; and S.M. Chakraborty, head of chancery at Consulate General of India, Birmingham.

To inquire about membership of the GBCCC email or call 0845 603 6650.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.


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