Joint statement by business federation heads also presses for Doha Round’s completion
Berlin, April 25, 2007 – At today’s first-ever G-8 Business Summit, the chairman of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), William G. Parrett, also CEO of Deloitte, urged the leaders of the Group of Eight nations to maintain their commitment to the open flow of international investment across borders, realizing countries still need to address local issues such as national security.
“Governments need to take action at the highest level to avoid investment protectionism if we want to encourage the free flow and benefits of international investment,” said Mr. Parrett, who represented the United States in the G-8 business preparatory meeting, which was organized by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). “They need to affirm, in word and practice, their commitment to open, cross-border investment.”
The Berlin summit brought together the heads of top business federations from Germany, which hosts this year’s G-8 leaders summit in Heiligendamm this June, and the other G-8 nations along with the trans-European business federation Business Europe. The business leaders signed a joint G-8 Business Declaration that will be presented to the G-8 government leaders, urging completion of the WTO’s Doha Round “as a matter of urgency and top priority,” and proposing ways to address related trade and investment issues, innovation challenges such as intellectual property rights, and climate protection. They were scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later today.
Investment protectionism has been on the rise both in the G-8 nations and elsewhere, and curtailing such measures was among the top priorities spelled out by the business leaders in a joint statement. Mr. Parrett pointed to a number of recent measures that he said needlessly interfered with foreign mergers, acquisitions and greenfield investment under the guise of security concerns.
Mr. Parrett said business recognized that the world had changed dramatically since 9/11, and that governments must pay more attention to national security issues. “But a legitimate concern for national security needs to be balanced against the benefits of allowing foreign investment,” he said. “Blocking a foreign takeover for reasons of national security should be an extremely rare occurrence, and should be taken as a measure of last resort, only when all other rules or tools that are designed to protect national security are not adequate or effective. Further, blocking international investment should not be used as a means to give unreasonable commercial advantage for domestic businesses.”
Mr. Parrett called upon the G-8 governments to support annual updates by the OECD of measures to restrict investment on grounds of national security, and the extension of this study to the issue of informal barriers to investment. He urged that the business community be fully engaged in helping identify such informal barriers.
The business leaders focused on a number of other issues they said required attention by their governments at the Heiligendamm summit. These included completion of the WTO’s Doha Round, fostering intellectual property rights, enhancing efficient capital markets, strengthening environmentally friendly technologies and facilitating private-sector participation in African development.
Peter M. Robinson, president of USCIB, who was also in Berlin, drew attention to the need for immediate action by the G-8 governments to protect intellectual property rights and stamp out product piracy. “The issue has moved far beyond movies and music,” he said. “Nowadays no industry, and no country, is immune from counterfeiting and piracy. Government action is urgently needed at the highest levels to stamp out this scourge.”
The United States Council for International Business 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 more than 300 leading U.S. companies, professional services firms and associations whose combined annual revenues exceed $3.5 trillion. As the American affiliate of several leading global business groups, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade. More information is available at www.uscib.org.
Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications, USCIB
Tel: +1 212 703 5043 or +1 917 420 0039 (mobile)
Madonna Jarrett, Director, DTT Public Relations and CEO Communications
Tel: +1 212 492 3738 or +1 646 388 2335 (mobile)
G-8 Business Declaration: Joint Statement of the G-8 Business Organizations (PDF file, 1.8 MB)