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Business leaders from over 30 countries have today issued a statement calling on governments to conclude a new multilateral deal to cut customs bureaucracy at this week’s World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Bali.

In an open letter to the Financial Times, the CEOs and Chairmen of more than 80 international companies – headed by ICC’s Chairman, Harold McGraw – emphasized that a trade facilitation deal could boost global GDP by upwards of 3%. Over the past three weeks, officials from around the world have been locked in round-the-clock negotiations to hammer out a final deal which could be finalized at this week’s ministerial.

The letter, which was released at the initiative of ICC, calls on trade ministers in Bali “to get the deal done” and secure the first multilateral trade agreement in almost two decades. The business leaders wrote: “All trade ministers should consider what this would mean for businesses in their respective economies. A robust WTO deal would enable many companies to trade internationally for the first time, particularly as the Internet opens up new market opportunities for small- and medium-sized companies.”

Following the publication of the letter, Jean-Guy Carrier, Secretary General of ICC said: “The initiative emphasizes business’ strong support for a successful outcome to this week’s ministerial. A deal to cut red-tape at borders could provide a major stimulus to the global economy – bringing benefits to businesses, consumers and governments alike. An agreement is very much within touching distance: the thing now is for us all to stay engaged to make this happen.”

The full text of the letter and signatories are available below, as well as on the Financial Times

Seize this chance to ease cross-border trade

Sir,

We represent over 80 international businesses. At the initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce, we are writing to emphasise the importance of a successful outcome to the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference this week—and, above all, the conclusion of a multilateral agreement on trade facilitation to cut unnecessary red-tape at borders.

The business case for a trade facilitation agreement is as clear as it is compelling. Inefficient border and customs processes place a significant brake on cross-border commerce in many countries: disrupting international supply-chains, raising costs to both businesses and consumers, and all too often discouraging companies from entering overseas markets. Recent studies suggest that improvements in border administration could lead to an increase in global GDP of upwards of 3 per cent—with an associated annual boost to global exports of around 10 per cent.

All trade ministers should consider what this would mean for businesses in their respective economies. A robust WTO deal would enable many companies to trade internationally for the first time, particularly as the internet opens up new market opportunities for small- and medium-sized companies. Indeed, research suggests that improved border and customs measures could trigger a 60 to 80 per cent increase in cross-border SME sales in some economies.

The international business community has consistently called for global trade facilitation reforms for over a decade. Much progress has been made in recent weeks in hammering out the details of a draft agreement under the stewardship of the WTO’s new Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo. Now is the time for governments to get this deal done.

Harold McGraw III, Chairman, McGraw Hill Financial; Chairman, International Chamber of Commerce

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group CEO, Bharti Enterprises

Victor Fung, Chairman, Fung Group

Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman and CEO, SEB

Gerard Worms, Vice Chairman, Rothschild Europe

Mohammed Samara Abubaker, CEO, Meridian Port Services

Togbe Afede, Chairman and CEO, Strategic African Securities

Joseph Agyepong, Chairman and CEO, Jospong Group

Rami Al Khateeb, CEO, Elaf Medical Supplies

Jamal Al Sarayrah, CEO, Arab Potash Company

Yassin Saeed Al Surror, President and CEO, A’amal Group

Matti Alahuhta, President and CEO, KONE

Ahmad Armoush, CEO, Jordan National Shipping Lines

Teruo Asada, Chairman, Marubeni Corporation

Pedro Aspe, Co-Chair, Evercore Partners

Khalid Awan, Chairman, TCS Holdings

Babar Badat, Managing Director, Transfreight Corporation

Alhaji Asoma Banda, CEO, Antrak Group

Othman Bdeer, CEO, Jordan Insurance Company

João Bento, CEO, Efacec

Sir John Buchanan, Chairman, Smith & Nephew; Chairman, ARM Holdings

Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestlé

Carlos Bulgheroni, Chairman, Bridas

Kimball Chen, Chairman and CEO, Energy Transportation Group

Patrick Coveney, CEO, Greencore Group

Frederico Fleury Curado, President and CEO, Embraer

Vasco de Mello, Chairman and CEO, Brisa Auto-estradas de Portugal

Marijn Dekkers, CEO, Bayer CropScience

Syed Manzur Elahi, Chairman, Apex Adelchi Footwear

Eduardo Eurnekian, CEO, Corporación América

Douglas Flint, Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings

Antonio Estrany y Gendre, President, Axion Energy

Gabriel Ghete, General Manager, Biotechnik

Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS Group

Ilham Habibie, President Director, Ilthabi Rekatama

Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, Chairman, Eskihisar Group

Richard Holyman, Managing Director, Martin & Pleasance

Kuok Khoon Hong, CEO, Wilmar International

José Honório, CEO, Portucel

Sebastián Escarrer Jaume, Board Member, Meliá Hotels International

Joseph Jimenez, CEO, Novartis

Sushil Jiwarajka, Chairman and Managing Director, Artheon Group

Matti Kähkönen, President and CEO, Metso

R.V. Kanoria, Chairman & Managing Director, Kanoria Chemicals & Industries

Rupert Keeley, CEO PayPAL EMEA, eBay

Young Tae Kim, Chairman, Daesung

Jüri Külvik, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Lemeks AS

Ronnie Leten, President and CEO, Atlas Copco

Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Dow Chemical Company

Michel Lies, CEO, Swiss Re

Andrew McKenzie, CEO, BHP Billiton

Ivan Menezes, CEO, Diageo

Yogendra Modi, Chairman and CEO, Great Eastern Energy

Raghu Mody, Chairman, Rasoi Group

Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO, Novozymes

Masami Iijima, President & CEO, Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Cherie Nursalim, Executive Director, GITI Group

Yongmaan Park, Chairman and CEO, Doosan Group

Kasemsit Pathomsak, President & CEO, Merchant Partners Securities

Sir John Peace, Chairman, Standard Chartered Bank

Jussi Pesonen, President and CEO, UPM

Oleg Platonov, CEO, Plaske

Saroj Poddar, Chairman, Poddar Heritage Enterprises

A.S.M. Quasem, Chairman and CEO, Newage Garments

Latifur Rahman, Chairman and Managing Director, Transcom

Mahbubur Rahman, Chairman and CEO, ETBL Holdings

Rokia Afzal Rahman, Chairman, Arlinks

Mohammed Rajpar, Managing Director, General Shipping Agencies

Tariq Rangoonwala, CEO, BOML

Björn Rosengren, President and CEO, Wärtsilä

Mikio Sasaki, Senior Advisor to the Board, Mitsubishi Corporation

Teo Siong Seng, Managing Director, Pacific International Lines

Martin Senn, CEO, Zurich Financial

Aasim Siddiqui, Managing Director, Marine Group

Risto Siilasmaa, Chairman, Nokia

António Simões, CEO, Sovena Group

Harsh Pati Singhania, Director, J.K. Organisation

Frederick W. Smith, Founder, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx

Jim Hagemann Snabe, Co-CEO, SAP

Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman, BP

Raigo Tammo, Chairman of the Board, Estanc AS

Chatrapee Tantixalerm, CEO, Krungsri Asset Management

Ivica Todoric, CEO, Agrokor

Karien Van Gennip, General Manager, Private Banking & Investments, ING, The Netherlands

Sunny Verghese, CEO, Olam International

Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson

Peter Voser, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell

Robert Yap, Chairman and CEO, YCH Group

Valeriy Zarembo, CEO, VATEK

Additional supporters include:

Peter Mihok, Chairman, ICC World Chambers Federation

Ali Mohamad Alghanim, Chairman, Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Hamad Almarzouq, Chairman, Kuwait Banking Association

Bader Alsubaie, Chairman, Union of Investment Companies

Ace Ankomah, Managing Partner, Bentsi Enchill, Letsa & Ankoma

Gregory Bird, Deputy Secretary General, Global Coalition for Efficient Logistics

Luis de la Calle, Managing Director, De la Calle, Madrazo, Mancera

John Denton, CEO and Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Manfred Gentz, Chairman, ICC Germany

Yaroslav Romanchuk, Managing Partner, EUCON International Legal Company

Augustine Samander, CEO, AEI – Jordan, Eastern – Jordan

Zhang Yanling, Vice Chair, CCOIC/ICC CHINA; Former Vice President of the Bank of China

For further information, please contact

  • Dawn CHARDONNAL
  • +33 (0)1 49 53 29 07
  • Head, Media Relations and Web