Trade has been a driver of growth and employment for the past 60 years. This engine of the world economy is threatened by the stalemate in multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Development Agenda (DDA), launched in 2001. The increase in trade and investment restrictions fueled by the global economic downturn is damaging the business climate and prospects for recovery, precisely when global trade and investment liberalization could provide a debt-free and much-needed boost to world economic growth.
Global value chains have become a dominant feature of today’s global economy, and as a result there is growing evidence and recognition that the nature of trade is changing. World trade is now characterized by the international fragmentation of production driven by technological progress, cost, and access to resources and markets. Traditional measures of trade that record gross flows of goods and services each time they cross borders do not reflect the value that is added in a country in the production of any good or service that is exported, nor do such measures reflect the role of imports of intermediate goods and services in export performance. Looking at trade from a valueadded perspective better reveals how upstream domestic industries contribute to exports, even if they have little direct international exposure. These changes in the nature of world trade have considerable implications for the policy choices and global rules that will allow governments and business to leverage trade and investment in the most effective way to contribute to economic growth and job creation.
Businesses – from small- and medium-sized enterprises to large corporations – produce the goods and services that are traded on a daily basis throughout the world. One of the challenges faced by business in an increasingly integrated global economy is the absence of global rules in many crucial areas. Improving the capacity of the WTO to expand the international rules for trade and investment is a necessary condition for creating an effective 21st century rules-based multilateral system that generates growth and jobs. For these reasons, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), in partnership with Qatar Chamber, is mobilizing business worldwide around a 21st century multilateral World Trade Agenda (WTA) for economic growth and job creation.
Business leaders – CEOs, corporate executives, and representatives of business organizations – in the presence of WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy launched ICC’s WTA initiative at a trade policy conference at the WTO in Geneva in March 2012. Participants began the work of defining the elements of a business world trade agenda, underscoring business’ collective will to move global trade talks out of the current deadlock. ICC hopes that these proposals represent a pragmatic, business-like approach to reaching agreements at the WTO.
The priorities outlined in this document are seen by business as necessary for a “harvest” of WTO negotiations over the past 12 years where business thinks tangible outcomes can be achieved at the 2013 Bali WTO Ministerial, and for moving forward elements of a longer-term policy agenda to complete the DDA and advance “beyond Doha”. It is expected that concrete progress on these priorities will provide an immediate injection of both confidence and momentum for GDP growth and job creation into the world economy.
The WTA initiative aims for business to define, in partnership with governments, a 21st century world trade agenda to stimulate economic growth and job creation by:
- promoting international trade and investment as engines for economic growth and job creation
- pursuing negotiations at the WTO to reach an immediate agreement on deliverables by the 2013 Bali Ministerial
- moving trade policy “beyond Doha” by outlining elements of a 21st century trade agenda.