The chapeau of the Summit Communiqué emphasized a resolve to ensure growth is robust and inclusive and delivers more and better quality jobs. It was noted that advancing inclusive growth and entrenching confidence will require strong engagement with all stakeholders.
The Communiqué reiterated the commitment to lifting collective G20 GDP by an additional 2 percent by 2018 as announced in Brisbane last year and reported that significant progress towards fulfilling commitments to the individual country growth strategies had been made. Acknowledging that more needs to be done, the Antalya Action Plan, comprising adjusted growth strategies and implementation schedules for key commitments, was agreed.
ICC welcomes the Communiqué and action plan geared on raising global growth and delivering better living standards and quality jobs worldwide. In particular, ICC was pleased that the G20: (i) rallied support for a strong multilateral trading system, (ii) increased efforts to ratify and implement of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, (iii) highlighted the importance of country-specific investment strategies, (iv) renewed attention to energy and climate challenges, (v) drew attention to the risks of intellectual property theft, and (vi) officially recognized the new World SME Forum.
ICC views on the G20 Leaders’ Declaration
ICC has been deeply engaged in the Business-20 (B20) process since the Seoul Summit in 2010, and this year worked closely with B20 Turkey to formulate the set of 19 recommendations that focus on the core economic drivers of trade, infrastructure, finance, investment and transparency. The B20 recommendations were presented to Turkish President Erdogan in September 2015, and President Erdogan reiterated the value of B20 input and contributions during his remarks to the business community during the B20-G20 Antalya Summit on 15 November.
In this regard, it’s both rewarding to see progress and gratifying to receive endorsement from G20 Leaders on the crucial role of B20 contributions. If properly implemented, the 19 mutually reinforcing recommendations put forward by the B20 this year would help the G20 exceed its 2% growth target.
The following sections delineate ICC’s initial views on the substantive outcomes from Antalya on the elements of the G20 agenda that are central to ICC’s work.
Supporting a strong multilateral trading system
ICC welcomes the G20 Leaders’ recognition of the importance of a strong and efficient multilateral trading system and their commitment to achieve a balanced set of outcomes at the 10th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Nairobi in December.
The specific commitment to increase efforts to implement all the elements of the WTO Bali Package, including the prompt ratification and implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, however, must be followed with commitments in national capitals, as only 52 countries have ratified the TFA to date. Speaking on the eve of the G20 Summit, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo noted that while no G20 country has said that it would not ratify the agreement, we are still far from the reaching the 108 required in order for the agreement to enter into force — and among the remaining are several G20 countries.
ICC also welcomed the recognition by G20 leaders that bilateral, regional and plurilateral trade agreements should complement one another, be transparent and contribute to a stronger multilateral trading system under WTO rules. This commitment is especially important with several regional trade agreements currently being discussed, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
ICC has routinely called on the G20 to eliminate trade protectionism measures and other barriers to open trade, and was therefore pleased that G20 Leaders reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to standstill and rollback on protectionist measures and pledged to remain vigilant by monitoring their progress. These commitments, however, come across as hollow in the face of recent reports that operational progress has been lacking. Moreover, Leaders have not adequately addressed problems of increasing non-tariff barriers as recommended by B20.
Trade flows—which have historically been an important driver of growth and job creation—recorded an unanticipated 6% drop through the first half of this year. New data suggests that protectionism is again on the rise, and according to the latest ICC Open Markets Index 2015, the G20 is failing to demonstrate global leadership on trade openness, with only one G20 nation ranking among the world’s top 20 open trade markets. It is therefore vital that the good words of the Antalya Communiqué translate into real world action to keep markets open and to make trade easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs. An initial test of the Antalya declaration will be the extent to which G20 governments are able to deliver on their commitments to strengthen the multilateral trading system at the WTO’s Ministerial in Nairobi in just one month’s time.
Commitments to investment and infrastructure
ICC is encouraged by the development of country-specific investment strategies aimed at boosting investment through private sector participation. The Communique notes that according to analysis by the OECD, these strategies would contribute to lifting aggregate G20 investment GDP ratio by an estimated 1 percentage point by 2018.
However, ICC believes that the growth strategies also need to be coupled with robust measures to support cross border investments and improve underlying investment conditions that enable long-term financing. During the B20 – G20 session at the Summit, Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman of the ICC G20 Advisory Group and Chairman of Sweden’s SEB, reiterated this vital business recommendation in his remarks to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, and urged the G20 to demonstrate global economic leadership by creating a sound, predictable set of rules governing investment.
Demonstrating leadership on anticorruption
ICC has a long history of supporting business in the battle against corruption and has developed a strong suite of concrete anticorruption training tools to curb the negative impact of corruption on investment, global growth and financial stability. ICC was therefore pleased to see that the G20 committed to building a global culture of intolerance towards corruption through effectively implementing the 2015-2016 G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan. Leaders also endorsed several new initiatives, including the G20 High-Level Principles on Integrity and Transparency in the Private Sector, the G20 Principles for Promoting Integrity in Public Procurement, the G20 Anti-Corruption Open Data Principles and welcomed the publication of G20 Implementation Plans on beneficial ownership transparency. ICC recognizes and values the ongoing cooperative role between the G20 and B20, and stands ready to complement the work of the G20 Anticorruption Working Group, including through the development of training products to help companies implement effective compliance programs.
Supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
Support for SMEs have been one of the defining aspects of this year’s Turkish Presidency and the Summit Communiqué made multiple references to supporting SME growth, from improving SMEs’ access to Global Value Chains and country specific investment strategies, to a Joint Action Plan on SME Financing and the release of G20/OECD High-Level Principles on SME Financing.
Addressing energy needs and climate change challenges
ICC is pleased that the Communiqué included a new emphasis on improving energy efficiency, increasing investments in clean energy technologies and supporting related research and development activities. Specifically, G20 leaders endorsed the G20 Energy Access Action Plan; Voluntary Collaboration on Energy Access, which initially focuses on enhancing electricity access in Sub-Saharan Africa; and the G20 Toolkit of Voluntary Options on Renewable Energy Deployment which sets out options for further work by the G20.
The Communiqué also highlighted progress made this year by participating countries in taking forward their voluntary collaboration on energy efficiency and emissions performance of vehicles, particularly heavy duty vehicles, networked devices, buildings, industrial processes and electricity generation, as well as financing for energy efficiency.
Taxation rules for the 21st Century
ICC fully supports the G20’s goal of a globally fair and modern international tax system. The conclusion of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) package is an important first step in tackling tax evasion. However, the envisioned goal can only be achieved if countries are able to agree among themselves on a fair distribution of taxation rights in order to avoid double taxation disputes that would stifle cross-border trade and investment. In this light, ICC welcomes the G20’s statement that the BEPS package should be implemented in a consistent manner – coordinated and coherent implementation is imperative to prevent increased double taxation. Furthermore, ICC believes that implementation should take place in close cooperation with business to ensure the reforms are both practicable and effective. ICC also stresses the importance of ensuring that all countries – not just OECD states – work together towards a consistent international tax landscape. ICC therefore fully shares the G20’s call to strengthen developing economies’ engagement on equal footing.
ICC continues to raise its concerns that compliant taxpayers will suffer collateral damage as a result of a tightening of international tax rules. In this context, ICC calls upon the G20 to ensure effective dispute resolution mechanisms are in place to mitigate the “tsunami” of double taxation cases and associated tax disputes anticipated in the coming years. To this end, we offer our full support and extensive expertise in the areas of taxation and dispute resolution to the G20, OECD and UN.
Delivering information and communications technologies (ICTs) to all
One of ICC’s priorities in the Digital Economy is the global development and stable growth of and access to information and communication technology (ICT). ICC is therefore pleased that the Communiqué included a commitment to “bridge the digital divide”. While there remains considerable opportunity for the G20 to provide specific guidance and momentum in this area, the commitment generally reflects ICC First Vice Chairman Sunil Mittal’s recommendation to President Erdogan during the B20 – G20 session in Antalya for G20, where he called on Leaders to commit and invest in developing digital infrastructure to deliver a brighter and more prosperous future to their citizens. He also underlined the urgent need to bridge the global digital divide and provide easy and affordable access to ICTs to millions across the world: “If we want to help people feed, heal, educate and employ themselves, we need to ensure they can connect to the internet.”
Bolstering intellectual property protection
Intellectual property (IP) plays a key role in supporting the innovation required to help solve many of the challenges described in the Antalya Communiqué, such as sustainable development, climate change, food security and improving energy efficiency, ICC is therefore pleased that the Communique recognized that no country should conduct or support ICT-enabled theft of IP, including trade secrets or other confidential business information. Notably, this is the first mention of IP in a Leaders’ Communique, which signals much needed attention to the value of IP and the risks associated with IP theft. ICC has long sought to highlight the importance of an effective and predictable IP system for innovation, as well as to safeguard companies from IP theft and protect consumers from the health and safety risks associated with trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy. ICC commends the G20 for recognizing this important issue and will contribute full support to the G20’s work in this area.