After Bali: The ways in which business must push for open trade

  • 7 July 2014
ICC Certificate of Origin

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has adopted a work-plan supporting further trade liberalization following on from the success of the meeting of Ministers of the World Trade Organization in Bali, Indonesia, last December.

Prepared by the ICC Commission on Trade and Investment Policy, the statement ICC World Trade Agenda post-Bali business priorities welcomes the renewed pursuit of a global trade and investment agenda that moves talks beyond Doha. This includes further trade liberalization regionally, through negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Pacific Alliance.

Adopted at a meeting of the ICC Executive Board in Geneva on 26 June 2014, the policy statement urges trading countries to act on the following priorities:

  • The continued liberalization of trade in goods and services worldwide. The over-arching goal should be the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to free world trade.
  • Concluding global negotiations aimed at a balanced outcome for the critical areas of agriculture, non-agricultural market access and services, which would speed up multilateral trade liberalization within the WTO. This includes developing a clear path towards conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda and its planned reductions of industrial tariffs.
  • Eliminating barriers to trade in IT products and encouraging the growth of e-commerce worldwide. This requires expanding product coverage under the WTO Information Technology Agreement, and continuing to refrain from imposing customs duties on e-commerce. Global exports of IT products reached US$1.4 trillion in 2010, making this one of the most important categories in world trade.
  • Fostering “greener” economic activity through trade. More countries should be encouraged to join the initiative announced in January 2014 by 14 WTO members to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods and expand product coverage for goods that protect the environment and address climate change.
  • Helping to liberalize trade in services through alternative negotiating approaches such as the Trade in Services Agreement. It is estimated that removing barriers to global exports of tradable services could generate world trade gains of US$1 trillion, which could generate almost 9 million jobs worldwide.
  • Encouraging the development of WTO disciplines over state-owned and state-supported enterprises that enter the market. Between 2004 and 2008, 117 state-owned and public companies appeared for the first time on the Forbes Global 2000 list of the world’s largest companies. The home governments of these companies protect them from competition and this can be a way for governments to intervene in the marketplace and skirt their WTO commitments.
  • Improving the protection and promotion of investment through bilateral and other agreements, while also laying the groundwork for a high-standard multilateral framework on investment.

“One of the big challenges for business, in an economy that is increasingly globalized, is that in many crucial areas, international rules are either non-existent or inadequate,” said James Bacchus, Chair of the Commission on Trade and Investment Policy. “The WTO has a fundamental role to play in modernizing the international rules of the game – and ensuring compliance with them – so that we can create an effective 21st-century trading system.“This is why the ICC, in partnership with Qatar Chamber, is mobilizing business worldwide around a 21st-century multilateral World Trade Agenda for sustainable economic growth and job creation. ICC believes that following the recent success in Bali, there is a real opportunity to make progress on a global trade agenda.”

In setting a post-Bali work programme, ICC continues to work with governments to identify and prioritize areas where results can be achieved by WTO members.

Read ICC World Trade Agenda post-Bali Business Priorities.