Global business launches trade agenda to provide growth amid the economic crisis

  • 28 September 2012
Trade facilitation

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) today unveiled the initial recommendations of its Business World Trade Agenda initiative, aimed at stimulating the global economy by helping to move the WTO's multilateral trade negotiations out of an 11-year deadlock.

ICC is mobilizing international business – representing small, medium and large enterprises that produce the goods and services traded daily throughout the world – to define a practical and forward-looking multilateral agenda.

Global trade has dropped sharply in 2012 and volumes are not expected to rise without restructuring multilateral trade negotiations and salvaging as much as possible from the WTO’s Doha round of trade negotiations. Business is therefore providing its recommendations for governments to address the urgency of declining trade, which has been further hampered by the shortage of trade finance and the rising threat of protectionism.

Initial recommendations from this process – which will culminate in the World Business Summit, being hosted by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry in April 2013 back-to-back with the ICC World Chambers Federation 8th World Chambers Congress – were launched on the occasion of the World Business Leaders Conference in Beijing.

“Resolving the current trade deadlock is a priority for global business. International trade and investment are the engines of economic growth and job creation, which will ultimately pull the global economy out of recession,” said ICC Honorary Chairman Victor K Fung. “It is crucial that governments work now to find a solution to unleash the benefits of trade and investment.”

ICC has been leading the global business community with initiatives – including the ICC Business World Trade Agenda and the ICC G20 Advisory Group – that encourage dialogue between business and government, in a bid to establish practical policies for opening trade and investment. The World Trade Organization supports ICC’s trade agenda, and global business will continue to provide input to governments in the lead up to the next WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013.

“Business is uniquely placed to suggest innovative ways for overcoming obstacles in the ongoing trade negotiations,” said ICC Chairman Gerard Worms. “The potential impact of failed trade talks on business and job creation has moved us to take action. Without a stronger multilateral trading system, business will face an even more difficult environment for trade and investment.”

“The evidence shows that all countries and peoples will benefit from greater international trade and investment, because this drives economic growth and jobs based on a level playing field, innovation and inclusion”, said Harold McGraw III, ICC Vice-Chairman, and Chairman and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

ICC Business World Trade Agenda priorities include a call on governments to:

  • Conclude a stand-alone trade facilitation agreement
  • Advance the multilateral process under the WTO framework
  • Liberalize trade in services
  • Lower barriers to trade in information technology products and services
  • Work towards a multilateral framework on international investment

A WTO agreement on trade facilitation is expected to deliver gains of at least US$130 billion per year worldwide and millions of new jobs, which will particularly benefit developing economies.

The ICC Business World Trade Agenda initiative will hold regional consultations in various parts of the world to gather further input on its recommendations before presenting them to governments in Doha in April 2013.