Trade & investment

Business demands leadership from G8, Fourtou tells closing

  • 9 June 2004

Text of ICC Chairman Jean-René Fourtou's closing address to the ICC 35th World Congress, delivered Wednesday 9 June, 2004.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends We have reached the end of our congress.

Thanks to all of you, thanks to all of our eminent speakers, thanks to the hard work of all who have been involved in the organisation of this congress, thanks to the magic of Marrakesh and to the warm welcome extended to us by our Moroccan friends, it is clear to me that our congress has been a great success.

I would like to thank all of you, and especially His Majesty the King and his government who has given us such strong support.

Our debates have been of great quality, often controversial, but always sincere and forthright.

The challenges posed by globalization gave us an insight into the real problems of today’s world – the risks and also the opportunities that the future is offering us.

Poverty, injustice, unemployment, security, the Middle East, relations between the Muslim world and the West, intrusive bureaucracy, bad governance, environmental degradation, insufficient leadership and a general lack of political vision.

All of this has shown how much companies, beyond their primary function to create wealth, are concerned with the main problems facing our world – because these are, afterall, the conditions in which they operate.

Through ICC, and also often directly, companies have shown themselves ready to help tackle these problems and to assume their responsibilities.

At this, the closing of this conference, ICC wants to solemnly express its conviction to that cause by publishing its Marrakesh Business Declaration.

It is first addressed to the leaders of the G8 who are meeting this week, but also to the governments of this world, to the negotiators of the Doha round and finally to companies themselves.

Our conviction is that the expansion of international trade is one of the driving engines of economic and social progress.

Unfortunately it cannot resolve all problems, but it is an effective tool to increase wealth, knowledge and mutual respect among civilisations.

Secondly, we consider that multilateral agreements in the context of the WTO are indispensable to development of balanced trade relations between countries – especially between the North and South. The Doha round has to reach a conclusion as soon as possible.

Thirdly, to reap all the benefits of globalization, good governance is vital. Every country, from the rich to the least developed, is competing to attract international investment and to strengthen its private sector.

For this, what matters above all is legislation regulating trade and investment which is effective, fair, competitive and respected. Certainly, other factors matter a great deal – security, human resources, infrastructure – but it is with governance and commercial law that we must start.

Fourth, all the surveys agree – and it has been reinforced several times at this congress – what we are lacking the most is leadership and vision.

This message is addressed most particularly to the members of the G8 who are meeting today in Sea Island, but also to governments of the new European Union who also have a large responsibility in these times of uncertainty.

Everyone seems to focus on the short term and on their immediate interests.

But there cannot be governance, effective management or the support of the majority of citizens without clear vision and politicians who show real leadership.

We expect a lot of the G8 leaders, not only that they give the necessary impetus to the success of the Doha negotiations, but also that they commit themselves to working together to deal with the myriad tensions and risks with which we live today.

Finally, the Marrakesh Business Declaration is an appeal to companies.

We cannot expect all problems related to globalization to be resolved by international institutions and states.

Just like the founders of ICC in 1919, we in business must show imagination and audacity. We must take the initiative in all fields in which our capabilities are unique. We must cooperate with states and international institutions, and we must continue to progress in terms of governance in all countries.

These are the main messages in our Marrakesh Business Declaration.

The international media have given extensive coverage to our congress. ICC has emerged with a renewed confidence and is now more widely recognised for the excellent work it does.

Morocco too received wide exposure – especially to the world business community.

It was able to demonstrate the progress it has made, its openness and stability, its human capacity and its hospitality. It will attract, I am sure, a great deal of new investment.

This 35th ICC World Congress is now over. I would like to thank again all of the participants, all of the organisers and, of course, our sponsors.

I look forward to seeing you all at our next large gathering, the 4th World Chambers Congress in 2005 in Durban, South Africa.

The venue for the 36th ICC World Congress in 2006 has not yet been decided, but I am pleased to inform you that Istanbul has been chosen to host the 2007 World Chambers Congress.

Thank you and good afternoon.