G20 Executive Talk Series
ICC Secretary General
As the world business organization – with a worldwide network reaching over 6 million companies, chambers of commerce and business associations in more than 130 countries – the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is committed to ensuring that the voice of business is heard and that business interests are considered by policymakers at the highest levels. In this context, the G20 policy agenda has been a natural focal point for ICC to ensure that the direction set by Heads of Government is aligned with core business goals of open trade and investment, economic growth and job creation.
Over the last several years, the ICC G20 CEO Advisory Group has joined with host country business associations and CEOs from corporations – large and small – to collaborate on the formulation of business-based policy recommendations through the annual Business-20 (B20) process. ICC has served as a strategic, global business partner to successive host countries in Korea, France, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Turkey and most recently in China. Global trade and investment promotion has always been an integral part of ICC’s DNA. Our founders, the self-described “merchants of peace”, believed that trade and
investment would foster peace and prosperity in a world that was still reeling from the devastation of World War I. History would prove them right and over the past 60 years, the multilateral trading system embodied by the World Trade Organization (WTO) has contributed to improving the standard of living of billions of people across the world. It has created new economic opportunities, providing greater choice and lower prices to consumers.
There is however a growing revolt against global trade integration underway today in many of the world’s largest economies. In the United States, the leading presidential candidates are united in their opposition to trade deals. In Europe, there is growing public opposition to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or “TTIP”.
While the global trading system is by no means perfect, ICC contends that a strong, rules-based multilateral trading system remains one of the best tools we have for increasing global welfare, job creation and for poverty reduction. With this in mind, ICC has launched the #TradeMatters initiative to help set the record straight on the role of trade in today’s economy. ICC believes that with appropriate complementary policies, trade can contribute to sustainable growth, quality job creation and increased consumer choice. That’s why it’s vital that governments resist the temptation to establish trade barriers and instead focus on providing support for displaced workers—including skills training for new jobs.
As stewards of the global economy, G20 leadership is critical to restore trade as a central driver of global growth, while also ensuring that protectionism does not constrain the much-need economic gains from trade. Despite past G20 pledges and efforts, trade and investment are continuing to slow significantly in the headwinds faced by the world economy. Trade is expected to grow by less than 3% for the fifth consecutive year in 2016. We should not accept this as the new normal.
The B20 has therefore called on G20 governments to make trade and investment central to their agenda and has this year identified three themes as priorities: (1) improving trade cooperation, as well as stopping and rolling back protectionism; (2) ratifying and implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA); and (3) taking steps toward a multilateral investment framework and encouraging global investment flows.
There remain significant opportunities to boost trade for the benefit of all – particularly through new global initiatives under the WTO. ICC is supporting global efforts for instance to streamline customs and border procedures, liberalize trade in green technologies and enhance the supply of finance for small businesses looking to trade internationally.
G20 governments should also take steps to create an environment which attracts inward investment (FDI). Research shows that FDI plays a vital role in creating new jobs and driving economic growth – as well as significant transfer of technology and know-how from country to country.
B20 China Chairman Yu Ping and CCPIT are to be commended for organizing a successful B20 process, and I am confident that the Hangzhou Summit will produce tangible outcomes on this year’s business priorities. I look forward to continuing ICC’s long-standing partnership in the B20 process in the coming years to ensure that the voice of business is heard, and that our interests are taken up by policymakers at the highest level.
ICC stands ready to work with G20 governments in advancing their growth and jobs agenda before, during and after the G20 Summit events – from China to Germany and beyond.
ICC Secretary General
While the global trading system is by no means perfect, ICC contends that a strong, rules-based multilateral trading system remains one of the best tools we have for increasing global welfare, job creation and for poverty reduction.