New York, N.Y., November 26, 2013 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) expressed deep disappointment at the failure of World Trade Organization members to finalize a prospective “Bali package” ahead of the WTO ministerial next week in Indonesia.
But the pro-trade group, which represents the views of American business in major multilateral forums, urged ministers to salvage a prospective deal on trade facilitation, saying this would deliver a boost to a global economy stuck in the doldrums.
“An ambitious trade facilitation agreement could have a real, positive impact on growth and jobs in the U.S. and around the world,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. ”We remain hopeful that ministers can chart a path forward. Finalizing a trade facilitation deal would reinforce the WTO’s role as an essential platform for trade liberalization.”
WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo said diplomats from the WTO’s 159 members tried hard but “cannot cross the finish line here in Geneva” ahead of the December 3-6 Bali meeting, where ministers were to have signed the deal.
Robinson said: “We appreciate the efforts by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman’s team to advance the WTO talks in Geneva as far as they were able to go. We urge WTO members to use the Bali ministerial to pick up the pieces and move forward as quickly as possible.” He noted that USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan will join business representatives from around the world at the ministerial.
Many observers believe a WTO trade facilitation agreement could deliver a significant shot in the arm to the world economy. In June, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, in cooperation with USCIB and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), released a study assessing the potential payoffs from an “early harvest” of elements from the WTO’s Doha Round. The report concluded that a trade facilitation agreement alone would deliver global job gains of 21 million, with developing countries gaining more than 18 million jobs and developed countries increasing their workforce by three million.
“Multilateral agreements like the Bali package are especially important in a world of highly integrated, multi-country global value chains,” Robinson said. “Imports now constitute some 40 percent of the value of exported goods globally, making import barriers in essence a tax on exports.”
For its part, ICC said it supports continued efforts to successfully conclude an agreement and will be working through its members to press governments to find a path forward.
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
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