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As negotiations continue at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC12), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has released a statement on global business priorities outlining seven key recommendations for action. 

The global business community views the WTO as an essential pillar in the multilateral trading system. As end-users of the system, the global private sector strongly encourages ministers to work towards ambitious outcomes that will meet the needs of modern economies and all stakeholders. 

At a time of serious global economic challenges—in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, pressures on global supply chains, and the prospect of high inflation and recession—ICC has released a statement on global business priorities urging ministers to take the opportunity presented by MC12 to reinforce the role of the WTO and to ensure its effectiveness to meet ongoing and new global challenges. 

ICC secretary-general John W.H. Denton AO said: “World trade negotiations are now at a crunch point. Ministers need to take hard decisions and not underestimate the importance of outcomes for business. My message to them is that extending the e-commerce moratorium and curbing fishing and agricultural subsidies are all critical. But, above all, business needs a roadmap for WTO reform to make this organisation relevant again.”  

Seven areas stand out as priorities for the global business community: WTO reform, e-commerce, fisheries subsidies, food security, health, environmental sustainability and services domestic regulation: 

  1. WTO reform: Give political support to make the necessary reforms and improve the functioning of the WTO.  
  2. E-commerce: Make permanent the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions or, at a minimum, renew the moratorium for a further two years.
  3. Fisheries subsidies: Complete the long-overdue fisheries subsidies negotiations.  
  4. Food security: Deal with the worsening food crisis through sensible measures at the WTO. 
  5. Health: Adopt and go beyond the Trade and Health Initiative. 
  6. Environmental sustainability: Contribute to solutions to the global challenges we face, including through the transition to more sustainable business practices. 
  7. Services domestic regulation: Commit to the Services Domestic Regulation agreement at MC12. 

At an event for global business representatives organised today by ICC on the side-lines of MC12 in Geneva, ICC Global Trade & Investment Commission Chair Ute John delivered the recommendations to WTO Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Ms John also handed Dr Ngozi a letter outlining the global business community’s desire for trade ministers to roll-over the “e-commerce moratorium”. 

Ms John said: “The fact that there are so many business representatives gathered here today is the proof that international business is strongly supporting the WTO and the multilateral trading system. We are the end user of the system, and we need a strong and effective WTO that can tackle the problems of today and the challenges of tomorrow. 

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