ICC Executive Board looks forward to post-Bali agenda
Meeting at ICC headquarters in Paris just days after the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved agreements – including a deal on trade facilitation – in Bali, ICC Executive Board members applauded the ICC global network for the influential role it had played in pressing governments to reach agreement and bring multilateral trade negotiations back to centre stage.
Through the ICC World Trade Agenda initiative, the ICC network – representing approximately 6.5 million companies in 130 countries – has spent the last two years calling for the deal, which is expected to inject up to US$1 trillion into the global economy annually and create 21 million jobs.
“This deal breaks through the log jam that has bound up trade agreements for the last decade and paves the way for future agreements that will further increase global growth and job creation” said ICC Chairman Harold (Terry) McGraw III in a recorded message to ICC members and staff worldwide.
The ICC Executive Board said that such agreements, including mega-regionals, should now be considered to shape a policy approach that is both comprehensive and centred on multilateralism. The ICC Board further expressed support for plurilateral agreements under a WTO framework, such as an agreement on trade in services, which would remove barriers to global exports of tradable services, adding as much as another US$1 trillion annually to the global economy and creating up to nine million jobs. They also called for expanding the Information Technology Agreement and moving forward on a multilateral framework on investment.
Not only have achievements in Bali rekindled confidence in the WTO as the most inclusive forum for negotiating trade liberalization and new rules, they also mark a new era in multilateral trade negotiations and an opportunity for business, with a new drive to open markets globally under a renewed post-Bali multilateral trade and investment policy agenda.
The ICC Executive Board reconfirmed ICC commitment to further business input to the WTO as it moves forward post-Bali, and agreed that the time had come for the organization to consider alternatives to the “single-undertaking” approach to negotiations – a rule from the 1980s whereby everyone must agree to everything before there can be agreement.
“A strong majority of WTO Members were in favour of concluding an agreement in Bali but were opposed by a handful of countries who were able to block progress using out-dated WTO rules,” said ICC Secretary General Jean-Guy Carrier. “This approach is no longer suited to an organization of 159 Members, soon to be 160 Members, operating in a 21st Century economy.”
Victor K. Fung Chair of the ICC World Trade Agenda initiative said: “Beyond numbers, the Bali package is seen by some as a coming of age – at last – of the global trade body that succeeded the GATT in 1995. While we should savour this victory, we should also learn our lessons and begin to redress some of the challenges which made the deal so hard to achieve.”
ICC’s contribution to achieving the Bali Package and in reinvigorating trade negotiations at the WTO are at the centre of the ICC mission to promote cross-border trade and investment as a means of fostering peace and prosperity. Success in Bali has highlighted how the voice of world business can make a difference in the world, not only for business but for everyone dependent on the global economy.