In March, Mr Danilovich was awarded the ICC Merchants of Peace Award for his significant contributions to promoting peace, prosperity and international cooperation through international trade and investment.
We spoke to John about his four-year stretch at the helm of the world business organization.
What compelled you to become Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce?
For forty years, in both the shipping industry and in government, I have passionately believed international trade and transnational investment to be the dynamic drivers of economic growth, prosperity and inclusion.
The critical role of free trade in promoting vibrant economies was made even more evident to me when I served as US Ambassador to Costa Rica from 2001–2004 and subsequently as Ambassador to Brazil from 2004–2005.
These in-country experiences, combined with my time as CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and now as Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, brought home a realization that so much of what has become our accepted way of life is the result of an open, global trading system.
Costa Rica was the lead country among the centrals negotiating the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA, encompassing seven countries and over 375 million people, was essentially an extension of NAFTA and, after the usual slugfest that accompanies trade negotiations, resulted in major economic benefits to all participating partners.
Brazil is a major global economic force and is an essential market for most of the Fortune 500 companies. The US-Brazil relationship itself underpins half a million jobs in the US. To cite just one example, over 400 component manufacturers in the US depend on business from Embraer – the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer.
Then, in 2013, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to a “Bali package” for lowering trade barriers including the historic multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). ICC played a critical role in the creation of the TFA and also in its subsequent ratification and implementation. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo expressed his appreciation to ICC throughout this process.
The challenge was then on to re-establish ICC’s credibility as the voice of global business and ensure ICC’s engagement with intergovernmental organizations and other major forums.
We have further enhanced ICC’s relationship with the WTO, through engagement on a broad spectra of initiatives.
Tangible results of this relationship began to emerge in 2015 at the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference when ICC launched the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation with several major institutional partners. Then, in 2016, we launched a series of WTO Trade Dialogues. These on-going discussions aim to voice business concerns about slowing trade growth and to create a platform to discuss current trade issues with WTO members, including business recommendations on a proposed WTO agreement on e-commerce. More recently, in 2017, ICC led the first ever official Business Forum alongside the WTO Ministerial in Buenos Aires. DG Azevedo felt that our initiative was so successful that a Business Forum will henceforth be incorporated into all future WTO Ministerials. At the same time, DG Azevedo and I launched the ICC WTO Small Business Champions initiative to help deploy practical solutions to some of the barriers that MSMEs face in doing business across borders.