Since 2016, the WTO has hosted a series of dialogues with private sector leaders on trade issues. As the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries, ICC has actively mobilised business leaders to participate in this Trade Dialogue series to exchange ideas and concerns related to trade issues, such as the transformation of food systems and trade financing gap.
Given the trade complexities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, ICC, WTO, and Business-20 (B20) joined together to co-host a virtual Trade Dialogue session to outline private sector priorities ahead of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in November. As part of the meeting’s opening session, WTO Director General Dr Ngozi and ICC Chair Ajay Banga discussed the importance of strengthening supply chains to ensure vaccine equity.
Mr Banga highlighted the value of private sector input at the WTO, stating: “Global trade is the foundation for global prosperity and global trust. Over the past decades, global trade has helped to close economic gaps, foster diversity, drive innovation and efficiencies. We have to be ready to make the most of this moment – and that will come not by talking about the future of the WTO, but by empowering and building the WTO of the future. ICC stands ready to shape a more inclusive, sustainable global trading system that will benefit us all.”
ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO moderated a session on the WTO response to COVID-19 to discuss reducing export restrictions and improving customs procedures to accelerate the production of COVID-19 vaccines. Representatives from the private sector and WTO focused on solutions aimed at improving vaccine production and removing supply chain barriers.
“Bringing the private sector into the WTO process is essential for removing trade barriers, accelerating vaccine production, and securing an inclusive recovery for all,” said Mr Denton. “As we saw from today’s discussions when business leaders and policymakers work together, there is very little that we cannot accomplish. To resolve the current complexities facing our global trading system, we need to break out of our silos and work across sectors.”
In December, ICC, the WTO, and B20 will co-host a dedicated Business Forum at MC12 to secure greater private sector engagement at the WTO and feed business experience into technical discussions.