ICC addresses global challenges at annual Davos meet

  • 24 January 2014

An ICC contingent of business leaders participated in the annual World Economic Forum in Davos this week to press for continued progress on trade, investment and business priorities for the G20.

Led by ICC Chairman Harold (Terry) McGraw, Vice-Chairman Sunil Mittal and Secretary General Jean-Guy Carrier, the group included several CEO members of the ICC G20 Advisory Group as well as members of ICC commissions, the ICC working bodies that develop ICC policy positions and voluntary rules on major issues for international business.

Davos highlights include Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s keynote address outlining Australia’s G20 priorities to boost global trade, strengthen tax regimes and coordination, address infrastructure investment bottlenecks and further improve financial regulation. Mr Abbott announced hopes that G20 leaders could make a practical difference towards building a stronger and more prosperous global economy in 2014.

G20 focus

Prior to his address Mr Abbott met privately with a group of business leaders to emphasize the centrality of business to the G20 process and the importance of the Business-20. Recognizing the major business contribution to job creation and economic growth, Mr Abbott told dinner invitees: “If the economic policies of our countries do not successfully promote and foster profitable private businesses, they simply do not work.”

ICC G20 Advisory Group members Mr McGraw, Mr Mittal, Jorma Ollila, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell and Alejandro Ramirez, CEO of Mexico’s Cineoplis, were among the notable heads of multinational companies attending the dinner. They endorsed Australia’s G20 priorities, shared associated policy recommendations and reiterated ICC’s on-going commitment to help shape the G20 agenda.

Australia has identified four key areas as a focus for the task forces that will drive the work of business leaders in the B20. They are:

  1. Financing growth
  2. Human Capital
  3. Infrastructure and Investment
  4. Trade

ICC G20 Advisory Group Chairman Marcus Wallenberg co-chairs the task force on investment and infrastructure while ICC Chairman Harold McGraw co-chairs the task force on trade.

Building on trade negotiations momentum

On Thursday Mr McGraw hosted a meeting between business leaders and World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo to build on momentum for multilateral trade negotiations following the successful outcome of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013.

Setting the tone for the meeting Richard Goyder, CEO of Westfamers and Chairman of B20 Australia said: “The Australian Prime Minister has clearly put trade at the forefront of his agenda for deliverable outcomes from the Australia G20 Summit. Action and proposals from business will be decisive in getting results from the G20, particularly on trade.”

During the meeting, Mr Azevedo expressed appreciation for ICC’s early and determined support, which contributed substantially to the success in securing what he referred to as a “do-able” result on trade facilitation in Bali. He said that the approach was the best way to make headway on multilateral trade negotiations and that the WTO was counting on ICC’s input to help identify additional areas for such achievable deals.

Emphasizing how crucial it was for the WTO to finally achieve a result from multilateral talks begun in 2001, Mr Azevedo concluded: “If we stop pedalling, the bicycle falls”.

Mr McGraw underlined the importance of leadership in moving the global trade agenda forward and said: “With Mr Azevedo at the helm, pre- and post-Bali, there is solid confidence that more can be achieved at the WTO in favour of jobs and growth for the world economy. “

Through ICC’s World Trade Agenda initiative, in partnership with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the ICC global network rallied to help secure agreements in Bali, including the deal on trade facilitation, which according to an ICC-commissioned study could inject up to US$1 trillion into the global economy and create 21 million new jobs.

For more information about ICC’s Word Trade Agenda initiative visit: ICC G20