Financial Times highlights ICC concern for TFA deadline

  • 30 July 2014
ICC Global governance

The Financial Times has published a letter by ICC Chairman Harold (Terry) McGraw III and Secretary General John Danilovich underscoring business concern for the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement.

With less than 48 hours to go for World Trade Organization to meet the first implementation deadline of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the letter was also highlighted in an article by the Financial Times’ World Trade Editor Shawn Donnan.

The article can be read on the Financial Times website.

The full text of the letter follows:

Let statesmanship prevail in Geneva

From Mr Harold McGraw III and Mr John Danilovich.

Sir, Last December we wrote – together with 80 other business leaders – to call on governments to conclude the first global trade deal in almost two decades.

The World Trade Organisation’s Bali agreement has since been widely, and rightly, hailed as providing a major contribution to the global economy; not to mention saving any hope for the WTO’s multilateral trading system. We are therefore deeply concerned to read reports that this landmark agreement may be about to unravel before its first implementation deadline on July 31 (“WTO battles to rescue deal as India reviews its stance”; July 25).

Those involved in talks to secure a key component of the Bali agreement – a package of common sense “trade facilitation” reforms to cut red tape at borders – must recognise that failure to agree a legal text to implement this deal will come at a significant cost. Gone will be the opportunity to inject much needed growth into the global economy. Gone too will be the possibility of creating millions of jobs. And with that will come great scepticism about the future of WTO-led trade liberalisation.

International business strongly supports the WTO delivering more rapidly on the development aspects of the Doha round of trade talks.

The irony is that trade facilitation reforms would do just that – with the majority of the above-mentioned gains accruing to developing countries. Simplifying customs procedures in developing economies would give local companies a competitive boost in global markets.

Any government that blocks the Bali deal will therefore send an ominous signal about its commitment to supporting domestic industries and attracting inward investment – not to mention upholding its international commitments.

Trade facilitation reforms are not just good for business. To take but one angle: the Bali agreement contains smart provisions to ensure that perishable goods don’t get stuck at customs – an all too common problem that contributes to shockingly high rates of food wastage in some economies.

In Bali last December statesmanship prevailed. It must do so again in Geneva this week. If political posturing proves the short-term victor, we all – businesses, consumers, governments – will lose out in the long run.

Harold McGraw III, Chairman, International Chamber of Commerce;

John Danilovich, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce

The letter can be read online.