Business leaders urge WTO governments to redouble efforts for success in Hong Kong

  • 8 November 2005

Writing in the Financial Times today, more than 60 CEOs and chairmen from a broad cross-section of countries, sectors and some of the world¹s biggest companies have called on governments to "face up to their responsibilities" and "redouble their efforts" to make real progress at next month's WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong.

In a joint letter, the CEOs and chairmen warn that slow progress on the current round of trade talks is jeopardising the prospect of negotiations meeting the revised deadline of end-2006.

The letter states: “Given the slow progress to date, it will be an uphill task to conclude the Doha Round on time. But it is by no means mission impossible. Success will be within reach if the political will is found to make the compromises in the few months ahead that recognize the common interest in success and the collective price of failure.”

“Business across the world urges WTO member governments to face up to their responsibilities and re-instil confidence among producers, consumers and investors that the multilateral trading system which has done so much to raise global living standards over the past half-century is still safe in their hands.”

Signatories to the letter, representing the wide cross-section of ICC membership, write that they are concerned by a perceived lack of urgency on the part of governments “to make the solid, substantive progress before Hong Kong that will be essential to enable the Ministerial Conference to propel the negotiations to a successful outcome a year later.”

It further states: “We strongly believe that the WTO-based multilateral trading system is one of the central pillars of international cooperation. Multilateral initiatives to liberalize world trade and improve market access for goods and services are a major driving force for global economic growth, job creation, and wider consumer choice as well as keeping in check the ever-present threat of protectionism.”

The letter comes on the same day as WTO Ministers meet in Geneva to prepare for the Hong Kong Ministerial.