ICC seeks MENA input on Business World Trade Agenda
Business leaders from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) gathered in Doha today to provide regional input on the recommendations of the Business World Trade Agenda, an initiative launched by ICC in partnership with Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The aim of this initiative is ultimately to drive World Trade Organization (WTO) multilateral trade talks out of an 11-year deadlock and “beyond Doha”. ICC and Qatar Chamber launched the initial trade recommendations in Beijing in September 2012, and are carrying out a series of global consultations to seek feedback from business leaders from all regions of the world.
ICC and Qatar Chamber are mobilizing international business – representing small, medium and large enterprises that produce the goods and services traded daily throughout the world – to define a practical and forward-looking multilateral agenda for stimulating the global economy.
“The ICC Business World Trade Agenda has great potential benefits for economies in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Qatar Chamber and ICC Qatar Chairman, Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani. “As economies in this region continue to grow, it is becoming increasingly important for countries to diversify their export of goods and services and to further integrate themselves into the global economy.”
Business in the region is uniquely placed to recognize and identify areas where WTO rules have been overtaken by 21st century trading realities. The current economic crisis has only intensified the urgency to redefine trade rules and to harness the potential of new multilateral agreements, with a “Doha victory”.
“Governments must unblock current trade negotiations to increase international trade and investment, which are great potential engines of economic growth and job creation,” said ICC Secretary General Jean-Guy Carrier. “In the context of the economic crisis, trade and investment could unleash a debt-free stimulus to the global economy.”
According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a WTO agreement on trade facilitation is expected to deliver gains of at least US$130 billion per year worldwide and millions of new jobs, which will particularly benefit developing economies.
“The most important development challenge in the coming decade for the MENA region will be to create enough jobs for our rapidly growing work force,” said Ms Dina Abo Onoq, Chair of the ICC Banking Commission in Saudi Arabia. “Countries within the MENA region are starting to transition from the old economic model, driven by the public sector, to a new more sustainable model that is more reliant on trade and private investment, promising to support faster growth and job creation.”
Instead, global trade has dropped sharply in 2012 and volumes are not expected to rise without restructuring multilateral trade negotiations and salvaging as much as possible from the WTO’s Doha round of trade negotiations. Business is therefore providing its recommendations for governments to address the urgency of declining trade, which has been further hampered by the shortage of trade finance and the rising threat of protectionism.
ICC Business World Trade Agenda recommendations include a call on governments to:
- Conclude a stand-alone trade facilitation agreement
- “Multilateralize” trade liberalization
- Liberalize trade in services
- Lower barriers to trade in information technology products and services
- Work towards a multilateral framework on international investment
These recommendations will be developed and further refined in preparation for the World Business Summit, being hosted by Qatar Chamber on 22 April 2013, the first day of the ICC World Chambers Federation 8th World Chambers Congress.
“Qatar Chamber is proud to support the ICC Business World Trade Agenda initiative,” said Sheikh Khalifa. “Business strongly believes that advancing global trade negotiations is crucial for further economic development in this region.”
The ICC Business World Trade Agenda initiative, which was launched at the WTO in Geneva in March 2012, will continue to provide input to governments in the lead up to the next the next G20 Summit in Russia in September 2013 and the next WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013.