Trade & investment

Poll finds companies dissatisfied with slow Doha progress

  • 7 June 2004

A worldwide poll of business leaders has found widespread dissatisfaction among companies with the slow pace of progress in world trade talks and the lack of political leadership being shown on the issue.

The joint ICC/Ifo World Economic Survey, released today, found 73 percent of business people polled believed it was “important” or “very important” to the continued growth of their national economy that Doha Round of WTO negotiations get back on track.

It further found that 74 percent of poll respondents were “dissatisfied” with the leadership being shown by world political leaders to reach multilateral agreement on trade liberalization.

The poll was jointly conducted in April by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) – and Ifo, the Munich-based economics research institute.

It surveyed 1,204 business people from all over the world – a combination of high-ranking members of ICC’s global business constituency and Ifo’s panel of economic experts.

The poll results will be announced today by ICC Chairman Jean-René Fourtou at ICC’s 35th World Congress in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The congress opened yesterday, two days before this week’s G8 Summit in the US.

The ICC/Ifo World Economic Survey – a quarterly poll of international business confidence – is now in its second year.

Other key findings of the poll include:

The worldwide economic recovery is continuing. The WES indicator for the world economic climate reached 110.1 – high above its long-term average 0f 93.0 (1990-2003).

EU countries generally have a less optimistic opinion of economic growth prospects, where concerns about unemployment are dragging down expectations for national economic growth;

In the US, business concern over public deficits pose the number one problem for the world’s largest economy with concerns over whether the US can continue to be the world’s economic engine, given its large public and current account deficits.

Recent economic growth was bolstered by spending by the federal government, especially on defense, partly because of the situation in Iraq and because of a general increase in military expenditures under the Bush Administration.

The ascension to EU membership of 10 new Eastern European countries has contributed to a very optimistic economic outlook in that region, where survey respondents expect “marked increases in corporate investments and activation of the foreign trade sector for the second half of 2004”

Asia has world’s most buoyant regional economy, with business confidence very high, off the back of China’s opening markets and the subsequent intra-regional trade.

There is a perceived risk of China’s economy overheating;

Inflation – a 2.8 percent increase in consumer prices expected for world economy in 2004;

The experts polled by the Ifo Institute expect the world economy to grow by 3.4 percent this year, in contrast to the 2.1 percent foreseen in the April 2003 survey. On the whole, the new survey results confirm that the world economy is in a much better condition than it was twelve months ago.