Concluding the Business-20 (B20) Summit in Sydney today, CEOs from around the world have called on the G20 to forge ahead with opening global markets, by liberalizing trade and investment policies, as the surest way to revive economic growth and job creation. The B20 Summit is an important opportunity for the global business community to provide input into the process leading up to the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia in November. Executives from USCIB member firms and across our global network played a prominent role.
“The most effective way to stimulate the economy and employment is moving ahead with a robust trade agenda” – Terry McGraw, USCIB Chairman.
CNBC Interview with USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw
The International Chamber of Commerce led a delegation of business leaders and CEOs to the B20 Summit, including USCIB and ICC Chairman Harold (Terry) McGraw III, for two-day discussions with business and government representatives. The event saw the finalization and prioritization of 20 mutually reinforcing recommendations for action by G20 leaders that if adopted, would exceed the two percent growth target set by G20 finance ministers in February.
“In a time of low, slow growth the most effective way to stimulate the economy and employment is moving ahead with a robust trade agenda,”said McGraw. “That is why first and foremost, G20 nations should implement and ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement that the WTO agreed to in Bali last December. By removing barriers to trade and cutting red tape this agreement has the potential to reduce total trade costs by 10 percent in advanced economies and by 13-15.5 percent in developing economies.”
Political and business leaders at the summit included Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, Australia B20 Chair Richard Goyder and Australian American business icon Rupert Murdoch.
Coordinated Push on Global Trade
With the World Trade Organization forecast for global trade in 2014 still below the 20-year average, ICC has called on G20 leaders to promote a multilateral approach to international trade and investment and to demonstrate the G20’s continued relevance to global governance by maintaining momentum on trade.
Specifically, ICC seeks collective action to remove barriers to global exports of tradable services by making progress on an international trade in services agreement and also calls for further expansion of an International Technology Agreement relating to the export of IT products.
As the voice of global business,ICC and its American affiliate, USCIB, have also pressed for the greater promotion and protection of cross-border capital flows – especially foreign direct investment – an infrastructure information hub to increase the pipeline of bankable, investment-ready projects and a multilateral framework on investment that will create an enabling environment for greater investment across borders.
“All of us – the business community, government and NGOs – need to work together and push for more cooperation from all sides in order to build on the momentum coming from the Bali agreement and realize the promise of global trade as a means of raising standards of living around the world,” added McGraw.
During a panel discussion about ways to accelerate global trade, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo noted that at the end of the day, government acts because the private sector pushes, and the Bali agreement would not have happened without business’s involvement. USTR Ambassador Mike Froman and McGraw added that a strong WTO is necessary to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement and to prevent countries from lapsing back into protectionist national agendas.
Action Needed on Labor and Taxes
Following the first day of B20 Summit discussions, the secretary general of the International Organization of Employers, Brent Wilton, commended the G20 labor ministers for commitments they made last July to address labor market structural problems, education and workforce development. However, Wilton said those commitments haven’t been sufficiently implemented. He noted that the G20 labor ministers must “walk the talk” and follow up on the employment plans they committed to in September.
Also following the B20 Summit, the international business community is looking at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for knowledge and leadership in the run-up to the G20 Summit in November, especially on global tax issues.
“The OECD is in a unique position to advise governments on the benefits of open markets and structural reforms,” said Phil O’Reilly, chair of the Business and Industry Advisory Council (BIAC) to the OECD. Speaking at a meeting with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria and G20 Business leaders in Sydney, O’Reilly said “The OECD mandate to develop a sustainable framework for international taxation is a case in point. The design and framework will be critical for the global economy. It must encourage and not hinder trade and investment across borders.
USCIB plays a leading role in OECD global tax discussions and recently held its annual International Tax Conference, organized with BIAC and the OECD.
Comprising over 30 CEOs and prominent business leaders, the ICC G20 CEO Advisory Group has been a platform for continuity in the B20 process between Summits, soliciting priorities and recommendations from companies and business organizations of all sizes and in all regions of the world.
ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said: “For the fifth consecutive year, ICC CEOs held leadership positions in the B20 task forces and contributed significantly to the development of the final recommendations. ICC’s participation in the B20 will contribute significantly to turning Mr. Abbott’s objectives for the Australia leg of the G20 into concrete action to drive measurable progress on the underlying G20 agenda of trade, growth, and jobs.”
“Looking ahead to the Brisbane G20 Leaders Summit in November, ICC will remain fully engaged with B20 leaders to rally ICC’s far-reaching network of companies and chambers of commerce to advocate for G20 Leader endorsement of the B20 recommendations,” said Danilovich.
ICC’s G20 CEO Advisory Group mobilizes worldwide policy-making expertise and solicits priorities and recommendations from companies and business organizations of all sizes and in all regions of the world. The group is composed of over 30 CEOs and business leaders working to ensure that the voice of business is heard by governments, the public and the media before, during and after each Summit.
Staff contact: Rob Mulligan