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Global business has emphasised its “strong and unequivocal” support for the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a statement issued at a major forum held today alongside the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires.

The statement, prepared on behalf of global business by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), highlights the importance of safeguarding existing multilateral trade commitments, avoiding protectionism, and sustaining the WTO’s dispute settlement function.

The statement emphasises the key role that the WTO system has played in driving economic growth and development – and urges governments to commit to a new and pragmatic agenda for the WTO in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Priority areas for new WTO workstreams identified by the statement include:

  • negotiations to establish new frameworks for e-commerce to help small businesses access global markets;
  • a new WTO work programme to support micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises; and
  • the adoption of an action plan on investment facilitation.

ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said: “Business is clear in its strong and unequivocal support for the WTO. We encourage governments to take pragmatic steps to strengthen the global trading system at MC11. This will require a flexible approach to ensure that the WTO can respond effectively to global challenges.”

“We believe the WTO has a vital role to play in enabling more small businesses to grow and succeed in the global economy. We encourage as many WTO members as possible to move forward with new workstreams on e-commerce and MSMEs at MC11. This is a vital response to the challenge to make trade more inclusive.”

Read World Business Priorities for the WTO Agenda: MC11 and Beyond.

About ICC

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the world’s largest business organisation with a network of over 6 million members in more than 100 countries. We work to promote international trade, responsible business conduct and a global approach to regulation through a unique mix of advocacy and standard setting activities—together with market-leading dispute resolution services. Our members include many of the world’s largest companies, SMEs, business associations and local chambers of commerce.

In 2017, ICC was granted Observer Status at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the first time a private sector organization has been admitted formally into the United Nations system.