Trade & investment

ICC USCIB Symposium on Customs and Trade Facilitation

  • 3 March 2015

Closing remarks by ICC Secretary General John Danilovich

Closing remarks by ICC Secretary General John Danilovich

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m sure you agree it’s been a terrific event and one which has succeeded in providing a 360 degree view of this increasingly important issue.

Rob [Mulligan from USCIB] has kindly agreed to do the hard part in summing up the discussions from each of the panels over the last two days.

Such has been the depth and breadth of the discussions, I don’t envy the task ahead of you Rob!

I’m therefore just going to make a couple of strategic points to close out from an ICC perspective.

The first is to emphasize the growing strategic importance of trade facilitation reforms-and by extension the vital importance of the work you all do.

It’s been mentioned a few times over the course of this event that the internet is rapidly breaking down barriers to trade… enabling companies to enter global markets for the first time regardless of their size or location.

To take one example… One recent study found that around 95 per cent of SMEs and microbusiness on eBay export. That’s quite a figure when you consider than only 15 per cent of “offline” companies export in most economies.

I recently met with Jack Ma of Alibaba who told me of the incredible number of small firms that are starting to use Alibaba to find international buyers for their products.

It’s clear that we stand on the potential cusp of a global trade revolution: one where small businesses like never before can reach beyond a local customer base and build global operations.

But if the full potential of “internet-enabled trade” is to be realized, governments need to do all they can to cut red-tape at borders.

Right now, consumers may find it easy to buy online from overseas retailers, but can they be sure that their orders will arrive in good time-if at all?

It’s also not uncommon to hear from companies that have found potential partners on the internet, only to discover that transportation costs are prohibitive to doing business.

Now that might sound crazy, but the reality is that shipping costs are frequently as high as 70 per cent of the value of exports in some developing markets due to inefficient border crossings.

And this is where the strategic importance of the TFA should not be underestimated.

In an environment where communication technologies are breaking down many of the traditional barriers to international commerce, getting TFA implementation right could unleash an unprecedented wave of new trade-and one in which anyone can participate.

This leads me to my second point… which is the linkage between new trade flows and job creation.

This is a complex topic and one which has been central to the current debate on Capitol Hill over Trade Promotion Authority.

But let’s cut to the heart of the debate.

The reality is that the available evidence points squarely to the fact that trade is a vital driver of job growth-both here in the US and internationally.

To drive this point home, I’d like to leave you with one simple figure. And it’s fitting that it’s from UPS-one of this Symposium’s key sponsors!

Every 22 new international packages shipped by UPS leads to the creation of 1 new international job by the company.

To repeat: 22 new packages equals one new job!

What a terrific example of trade directly creating new jobs around the world. At that heart of it, that’s what we are working for on this agenda: opportunity and prosperity for all.

It’s been a pleasure participating in the Symposium with you. I know that some of you will be staying on for the biannual meeting of our Customs and Trade Facilitation Commission which brings together leading businesses from around the world to discuss ICC’s advocacy on the nuts and bolts of customs and border reforms. For those of you registered for the meeting, Donia has some logistical details to share with you following Rob’s closing remarks.

To conclude for my part, getting the TFA implemented in quick time right level of ambition is a key strategic priority for ICC. And I-and my colleagues throughout our global organization-look forward to working with you to make that happen.

Thank you.