Trade & investment

ICC conveys sustainable development commitments at 2014 World Investment Forum

  • 16 October 2014
ICC Sustainable development

ICC joined private sector CEOs and heads of state and government at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) World Investment Forum 2014 which took place in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, from 13–16 October.

ICC Chairman Harold (Terry) McGraw, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich and ICC Trade and Investment Commission Chair James Bacchus underscored private sector commitment to global investment in sustainable development goals, and stressed that business and governments must work together and capitalize on the nexus between the public and private sector in order to achieve results.

“We see the cooperation between the private sector and governments as being essential for economic development, particularly to fulfil the agenda of the United Nations relating to 2015 development goals and onwards,” said Mr Danilovich. “It is critical for us as the representative of world business to closely cooperate with governments in their programmes for economic development.”

Mr McGraw remarked on the effect global GDP shifts were having on investment in the wake of the financial crisis.  “What we didn’t see and didn’t contemplate during the financial crisis of 2008 was the rapid growth of the emerging markets. Now we are seeing growth shifting from North to South and the business agenda has to be about helping to develop this kind of investment capability,” he said, noting that human capital and education were key requirements to achieve this objective.

Linking investment to global trade, Mr McGraw stressed the role international trade played as a catalyst for growth that in turn brought about job creation. Mr McGraw said that one thing every country could do to help advance development and investment was to support global institutions like the World Trade Organization and get behind multilateral trade deals that ultimately benefit all countries.

Highlighting the importance of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in promoting growth, creating jobs and contributing to economic prosperity, Mr McGraw told participants that ICC, in its continuing role to drive business views into the G20 process, supported Turkey’s endeavours to augment focus on SMEs as drivers of jobs and growth during the Turkish cycle of the G20 and beyond.

During the World Investment Forum, Messrs McGraw and Danilovich and other ICC representatives also took part in the Investment Advisory Council, a joint initiative by UNCTAD and ICC providing a platform for high-level consultations between business and government leaders on investment issues. During the lunch discussions with government heads, including Prime Minister of Tunisia Mehdi Jomaa, ICC G20 CEO Advisory Group member Kimball Chen of the Energy Transportation Group called attention to the importance of public-private partnerships in finding and implementing sustainable solutions. Mr Chen said that the rule of law and agreement of all players on their vision for the country’s sectors was paramount. Inter-ministerial and political coordination was particularly needed he said to avoid delaying necessary change.

The World Investment Forum gathers more than 2,000 private and public sector representatives from more than 140 countries to consider policy frameworks and conditions for investment at national and global levels to address sustainable development challenges.

The 2014 forum also featured a meeting on iGuides, a series of online guides, designed by UNCTAD and ICC to provide investors with up-to-date information on business costs, opportunities and conditions in developing countries. The global iGuides meeting aimed to explain the establishment and the use of iGuides to countries that either have an iGuide or are interested in having one developed.

While in Geneva, ICC also participated in private meetings with the Prime Minister of Tunisia and with WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo to discuss ways in which business can help to break the current impasse on the ratification of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

On day two of the forum, UNCTAD and the WTO co-hosted a high-level roundtable on the investment-trade-development nexus. The event brought together trade ministers, trade ambassadors and representatives of business and international organizations for a practical discussion on trade flows and rules and the regulatory factors that shape trade and investment decisions by business.