Paris and New York, July 29, 2014 – The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is rallying its global network to highlight the adverse consequences of missing a first deadline to implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
The move by the Paris-based world business organization follows reports that a small number of WTO members, including India, have proposed postponing implementation until negotiations on other aspects of the accords reached in Bali last year are complete, according to ICC’s American affiliate, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB).
In a letter sent to over 100 trade ministers worldwide, ICC Chairman Terry McGraw and Secretary General John Danilovich warned trade ministers that failure to meet the deadline would stall progress on multilateral trade liberalization, and prevent developing and developed countries alike from reaping the benefits of the deal, which if fully implemented would lead to significant increases in growth worldwide.
“It is our concern that such a course of action would not only deal a significant blow to the global economy, but would also side-track the progress that you made in Bali and undermine prospects for securing future pro-development agreements under the auspices of the WTO,” the letter said.
USCIB President CEO Peter Robinson sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman expressing deep concern over developments at the WTO. This followed an earlier appeal to G20 trade ministers by USCIB and other U.S. business groups urging swift implementation of the TFA.
In addition, ICC and its network of national committees have also undertaken a social media campaign to raise awareness of the TFA’s benefits, and to put pressure on governments to reach agreement on implementation, using the hashtag #savetheTFA.
Recognizing the importance of reaching an agreement on food security commitments contained in the Bali package, ICC said that legal adoption of the TFA now would create an environment within the WTO conducive to advancing dialogue on this vital issue in the coming months.
ICC is calling on all WTO trade ministers to consider the benefits of the TFA to businesses in their respective economies and stressing that trade facilitation reforms would improve border and customs processes and lead to new market opportunities for businesses large and small, in both developed and developing economies.
“The TFA will lead to significant increases in growth worldwide and it is in our shared interest to operationalize it in a timely and efficient way,” the ICC letter stated. “If fully implemented by all WTO members, the TFA and associated reforms could deliver over time an additional US$1 trillion to the world economy—in the process generating as many as 21 million jobs, with 18 million created in developing countries.”
Seeking the support in building consensus in favor of implementing the TFA’s legal text by the July 31 deadline, ICC urged ministers to keep pressing to find a workable solution to the current impasse, saying: “Progress now should not be held hostage to further delays that would jeopardize the wider economic benefits for us all – businesses, governments and consumers.”
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
+1 212.703.5043, email@example.com