Taking place in Geneva today, executives from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry updated WTO representatives on progress from the ICC World Trade Agenda. This initiative was established in 2011 with the aim of defining a practical and forward-looking trade policy agenda that will contribute to economic growth and job creation, moving WTO trade talks “Beyond Doha”.
ICC and Qatar Chamber are gathering input from business globally in order to compile a final set of recommendations that will be presented at the ICC World Trade Agenda Summit on 22 April 2013 in Doha, with a view to presenting them to governments in the lead up to the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013.
Among those taking part in discussions in Geneva were:
- Pascal Lamy, WTO Director-General
- Jean-Guy Carrier, ICC Secretary General
- Remy Rowhani, Qatar Chamber CEO
- Jan Atteslander, Economiesuisse Executive Board Member
- Barbara Meynert,Senior Advisor, Li & Fung Group
- Stuart Harbinson,Former WTO Ambassador, Switzerland
- Gabriela Wurcel,Director of International Trade, Phillip Morris International
“We are here to press for the inclusion of global business views in WTO deliberations and to introduce fresh approaches to boosting economic growth and employment through open trade and investment,” said ICC Secretary General Jean-Guy
The current economic crisis has only intensified the urgency to redefine trade rules and harness the potential of new multilateral agreements to provide a debt-free stimulus to the global economy.
For example, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a WTO agreement on trade facilitation is expected to deliver gains of at least S$130 billion per year worldwide and millions of new jobs, which will particularly benefit developing economies.
This business initiative, in partnership with governments, aims to define a new world trade agenda to overcome the deadlock in WTO negotiations and reach a “Doha victory”.
“Many business leaders have been disappointed by the slow pace of WTO negotiations,” Mr Lamy said. “They have expressed frustration that certain issues of importance to them seem to have dropped off the agenda; they believe that the WTO rule-making is slow in adapting to the changing needs of their businesses.”
“But the lingering and formidable economic crisis has put all of this into perspective. It has highlighted the fact that the business community and the WTO need each other,” he said.
The ICC World Trade Agenda initiative will continue to gather the input of small, medium and large enterprises that produce the goods and services traded daily throughout the world so as to shape recommendations that reflect trading realities.
“Business is uniquely placed to identify bottlenecks in the global trading system,” Mr Rowhani said. “We are moved to take action, because without a stronger multilateral trading system, business around the world will face an even tougher environment for trade and investment.”
ICC and Qatar Chamber answered calls from WTO and G20 leaders for new approaches by launching the WTA initiative in March 2012 at the WTO headquarters in Geneva.
The ICC World Trade Agenda initial recommendations, which were launched at the World Business Leaders Conference in Beijing on 28 September 2012, include a call on governments to:
- Conclude a stand-alone trade facilitation agreement
- “Multilateralize” trade liberalization
- Liberalize trade in services
- Lower barriers to trade in information technology products and services
- Work towards a multilateral framework on international investment
“With the Doha Round as a package at an impasse and political energy for international initiatives at a low ebb, a strong push by business is needed if we are to successfully deter protectionism and infuse trade policy with new energy and vigour,” Mr Lamy said. “So, we welcome the ICC once again to the WTO and offer our encouragement and support for the World Trade Agenda initiative.”
For more information please visit the ICC Business World Trade Agenda.