Tokyo and New York, June 17, 2008 – Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan, who will host the G8 summit in Hokkaido Toyako, Japan on July 7-9, today received the vice chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Hong Kong businessman Victor Fung.
Mr. Fung, who is also the incoming chairman of ICC, handed the Japanese prime minister an appeal to the leaders of the G8 to use their upcoming meeting to intensify international economic cooperation and revive global economic growth. The main focus of the ICC statement was on the need for a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiations on trade liberalization.
Accompanying Mr. Fung at the meeting were: Mikio Sasaki, chair of ICC Japan and chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation; Guy Sebban, secretary general of ICC; Toshio Nakamura, president of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and president of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Kiyoshi Yamada, secretary general of ICC Japan.
The Paris-based ICC is the largest, most representative private-sector association in the world, with hundreds of thousands of member companies in over 130 countries. The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), based in New York, serves as ICC’s American national committee.
A successful agreement in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations is only possible if G8 leaders step up their diplomatic efforts at the highest political level, the ICC said in its annual statement on behalf of world business to the heads of state and government attending the G8 summit.
G8 leaders will convene at the annual G8 summit to exchange views and find consensus on a variety of issues that affect the global economic order.
The current unsettled state of the world economy makes it all the more urgent the Doha Round is completed in the remaining months of the year. Slowing economic growth, financial turmoil, and rising food and energy prices are having a damaging effect on business and consumer confidence. A successful outcome to the Round would send a positive signal that governments can work together to strengthen rules-based global trade, and pave the way for further multilateral action to tackle systemic distortions in world agricultural markets, a big factor behind current high food prices.
An agreement on the Doha Round is imperative to safeguard the achievements made by the multilateral trading system, which has played a pivotal role in raising world living standards and creating employment.
What is more, modern-day business relies increasingly on growing and complex global supply chains that work best under multilateral rules.
Considerable progress has been made to date on the negotiations. Many hard-won, trade-enhancing offers are already on the table. These must not be lost.
Emerging from the meeting, Mr. Fung said: “We explained to Prime Minister Fukuda that the world business community is looking for strong leadership at the upcoming G8 meeting. Businesses all over the world want a successful completion of the Doha trade negotiations to be at the forefront of the G8 agenda.”
“We also talked about the critical need for the G8’s backing of wide and deep international support for the UN framework on climate change. ICC is pleased to note the priority given to this challenge by the summit,” Mr. Fung said.
ICC has a long-standing working relationship with the G8 and many intergovernmental organizations, including the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. The core mission of ICC is to promote trade and investment across frontiers and help businesses meet the challenges and opportunities of globalization.
In its statement, ICC also exhorts the G8 to pay heed to the following pressing issues facing world business:
Safeguard freedom of investment
G8 governments can serve as beacons of best practices and rein in investment protectionism, now resurgent on the global stage, ICC advised. Cross-border investment is an important vector for spreading the benefits of globalization more widely. It is therefore critical that G8 governments set a good example by recommitting themselves to keeping doors open to foreign investment, and not unnecessarily impede cross-border investment flows.
In addition, ICC calls attention to the need for international best practices for sovereign wealth funds, practices which are needed to uphold an international investment regime that remains open, stable and non-discriminatory.
Strengthen intellectual property protection
G8 countries must also be exemplary in their protection of intellectual property, since due to lack of adequate safeguards counterfeiting and piracy are robbing the global economy of an estimated $600 billion annually.
To that end, ICC recommends the G8 work toward prohibiting transshipments of fake goods through free-trade zones and promoting minimum global standards in enforcement of IP rights.
ICC’s initiative, Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP), is a well-established forum of companies and industry associations which are raising governmental and public awareness on the scale of this illegal activity and the widespread harm it does.
Support a global climate change pact
World business is encouraged by the Bali Action Plan aimed at negotiating a new global pact on climate change by the end of 2009. ICC calls on the G8 countries to support the creation of a global climate-change framework that promotes global participation, addresses risks while advancing cleaner development, stimulates development of an international carbon market, provides incentives for efficient energy use, stimulates research and removes barriers to create low-emissions technologies.
G8 backing would send a powerful signal, enlisting wide and deep international support for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. A well-designed framework is essential for business, which will supply as much as 86 percent of the new clean investments needed to fulfill its role, according to the UNFCCC. ICC is worried by the growing interest in some G8 countries in the use of unilateral trade sanctions to deal with climate change. ICC is of the strong view that these would not help in safeguarding the climate and would assuredly damage international trade.
USCIB promotes an open system of global commerce in which business can flourish and contribute to economic growth, human welfare and protection of the environment. Its membership includes over 300 U.S. companies, professional service firms and associations whose combined annual revenues exceed $3.5 trillion. As American affiliate of the leading international business and employers organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade.
Jonathan Huneke, VP of Communications, USCIB
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Mary Kelly, Director of Communications, ICC
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