World business priorities for the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization
ICC reaffirms its strong support for the multilateral trading system entrusted to the WTO. Multilateralism offers a sound pathway to create shared global prosperity and legal certainty by lowering barriers to trade worldwide and creating a level playing field.
ICC underscores the urgency of producing a meaningful result from the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali as essential to sustaining the centrality of the multilateral trading system and strengthening the WTO.
The successful conclusion of a trade facilitation agreement is critical to producing a meaningful result in Bali. A substantial trade facilitation agreement could create more than US$1 trillion in world export gains. For developing countries, the benefits would be significant: more than US$570 billion in increased exports and 18 million jobs created in these economies.
ICC also supports other possible components of a meaningful result – including expanding the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) – and some elements of agriculture and development issues such as improved tariff rate quota administration in agriculture and greater market access for least-developed countries (LDC) through duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access. Expanding product coverage of and country participation in the ITA could boost exports of the five largest ITA exporting countries by US$100 billion with imports increasing by US$98 billion. Improved administration of tariff quota administration in agriculture will increase utilization of quotas established in the Uruguay Round with benefits to developing countries. It is estimated that 100% DFQF coverage in OECD countries could – if accompanied by appropriate domestic policies – boost LDC exports collectively by US$21 billion and facilitate their integration into the global trading system.
ICC strongly supports regional and other efforts to lower barriers to trade and investment and stresses the need to pursue them in ways that will ultimately enhance the multilateral trading system. We recall, for example, how the conclusion of the NAFTA helped inspire the successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round trade agreements that established the WTO. Development of a framework to multilateralize results of the regional negotiations should be undertaken promptly.
In looking beyond Bali, ICC recommends that, in addition to pursuing further multilateral trade liberalization through the reduction of import duties and non-tariff measures, WTO Members expand current plurilateral agreements, for example through accession of China and Russia to the Government Procurement Agreement. ICC also recommends that WTO members negotiate new plurilateral agreements within the WTO framework that can evolve into fully multilateral obligations. In particular, ICC applauds the initiative of some WTO Members to pursue an international trade in services agreement as a potential model for moving the overall multilateral trading system forward effectively.
Given the importance of global value chains, WTO members should develop – post-Bali – a concrete perspective for reduction/elimination of tariffs and non-tariff measures for all products. Furthermore, in addition to services, other new approaches need to be pursued to promote global value chains, including on investment and regulatory cooperation.