The International Chamber of Commerce has been part of this series of discussions and process leading, we hope, to some decisions by governments and others, since the early start of the process.
We were at the World Summit on the Information Society and at the Summit in Geneva in 2003 representing business, and again in Tunis in 2005 and have been working actively with many of you in advancing the discussions that all of us want to contribute to.
We are representative of the private sector and the largest private sector organization in the world. Our network in 130 countries covers over 6 million companies who are essentially small- and medium-sized enterprises. Though ICC membership includes large companies, the vast majority of businesses that ICC represents in its network are SMEs. What they have in common is that they are involved, to some scale, in cross border trade and are in that way linked to the world economy.
ICTs and the Internet, and everything we are discussing in theory and in terms of practical applications, are really the life blood of their respective businesses – small and large – and at the heart of their capacity to employ millions of people in the industries that they represent.
For us at ICC there is an obligation to be part of this discussion and to be a constructive partner in advancing some of the basic principles that underlie what we are proposing.
Coming out of the earlier processes ICC created BASIS, whose members will be involved in discussions in the next few days. We are also organizing some of the special sessions that are going to taking place during the week.
The WSIS process has established that the information society is about all stakeholders and that the multistakeholder approach to developing policies that relate to the Internet and ICTs is the only way to ensure that important policy choices are made and that the information society grows in a way that is sound and open.
There is a real concern in the business community – by companies large and small – that the multilateral approach to addressing and trying to cope with some of the world’s economic and other problems is being put on the backburner by a good number of governments in the world.
When business looks at multilateral forums and multilateral negotiations, whether it’s in trade at the World Trade Organization or in climate change or even disarmament negotiations, there is an impression that governments are withdrawing from a multilateral approach. There is a tremendous concern that is shared by businesses around the world that this must not happen and must be opposed. Business has to speak with governments to make sure they remain engaged and remain committed to achieving results through a multilateral process such as this one.
It’s part of our commitment as an organization and driven by the desire of our members that a multilateral approach in this area as well as others is certainly possible and desirable.
Investment in high-speed networks and ICT services create a platform for economic growth for job creation and greater competitiveness, again at the heart of concerns for business. Studies show a positive impact on productivity, on GDP contribution and on job creation in ICT-enabled business sectors. The convergence of mobile services, broadband Intranet and cloud computing create an opportunity to drive availability and adoption of services, particularly in developing countries where we have seen true miracles happen in the last 15 to 20 years as these markets have opened up and have spread.
However, for these services to achieve their potential, the regulatory framework must create an enabling environment for investors by encouraging access to new radio spectrum to enable the expansion of mobile networks, or by encouraging cloud computing by addressing public policy issues relating to cross border data flows.
The business community believes that the current intergovernmental landscape heightens the need for even greater cooperation among stakeholders and for the Internet governance community to work together collectively to maintain full transparency in the discussions and processes that contribute to the formulation of Internet related policy.
The commitment of business is unquestionable. The desire of business to see a positive result is also driven by simple practicality and business concerns and the needs of our economies.
ICC can also attest to the determination of the public sector …to be a full partner in this process.