B20 Trade Task Force sets priorities for 2015 world trade agenda

  • 12 March 2015
ICC World Chambers

The Business-20 (B20) Trade Task Force has committed to work toward ratification of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) by year’s end.

The Task Force is committed to work with WTO and its members to ensure quick and effective implementation of the TFA and agreed to the strategy as it met to set business priorities for G20 governments, which also includes a call on the G20 to roll back protectionist measures implemented since the 2008 financial crisis.

The Turkey B20 Trade Task Force held its second meeting in Istanbul on 10 March. The Task Force consists of 76 company senior representatives from around the globe and is co-chaired by ICC Chairman Harold “Terry” McGraw and Guler Sabancı, Chairman of Turkey’s Sabancı Holding, and is supported by Knowledge Partner The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Knowledge Expert Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Recognizing the robustness of the world’s trade agenda, the task force’s principal objective is to prioritize the B20’s trade agenda to focus G20 leaders and WTO trade negotiators on actions that will lead to the fastest, most effective economic growth. The B20 group of companies unanimously agreed that the first priority is to call on all WTO countries to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which over time could contribute an additional US$1 trillion to world GDP and 21 million jobs, 18 million of which will be in developing countries. The task force outlined plans to work at the country level to convey the economic and job growth benefits of the agreement and to press for ratification and implementation.

Ms Sabancı and Mr McGraw strongly support this view and call for action, and B20 business leaders have committed to work with their governments to fulfill the WTO objective of securing two-thirds ratification of the TFA by its next Ministerial Conference in Nairobi this December.

Mr McGraw said: “Governments, particularly those in the G20, must now ensure that the TFA is ratified by their national legislatures by mid-December. This is a priority if the hard work of the trade negotiators is to lead to tangible economic growth.” He noted: “So far, the US is the only G20 country to ratify; and the remaining 19 must fulfill the commitments they made in Brisbane and demonstrate the leadership that comes with being part of the G20.”

The B20 Trade Task Force also agreed that the second key priority is to stop protectionism in its tracks and is calling on governments to move forward to remove trade restrictive measures.

Ms Sabancı, as the co-ordinating chair of the Task Force, said: “It is essential that countries roll back the tariff and non-tariff barriers that are loosely permitted by murky regulatory rules. According to the WTO, non-tariff measures are nearly twice as trade-restrictive as tariffs, causing a loss of almost US$100 billion in world trade and affecting 3.8 million jobs.” She advocated: “It’s time for the world’s trading countries to stop hiding behind regulatory loopholes and to start addressing protectionism in the spirit of advancing free trade.”

The Task Force additionally pledged its commitment to the success of the WTO as the central leading intergovernmental body driving trade negotiations and to continue to work with the WTO to advance multilateral trade liberalization.

B20 Trade Task Force co-chairs supporting Ms Sabanci and Mr McGraw include, Frederico Curado, CEO of Embraer (Brazil), Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemicals (US); Frank Ning, CEO of COFCO (China), Nils Andersen, CEO of Maersk (Denmark), Victor Chu, Chairman of First Eastern (Hong Kong) and Aleksey Mordashov, CEO of Seversatal (Russia).

B20 is the premier dialogue platform for engaging global business leaders with G20 governments and leaders. B20 Turkey is chaired by Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the President of the Union of Chambers of Commerce of Turkey.

The 2015 G20 Leaders’ Summit will be held in Antalya on November 15-16.

Learn more about the ICC G20 CEO Advisory Group.

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