USCIB has joined with leading private-sector groups from Argentina, Brazil, the European Union and Mexico in a statement on reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO). Meeting at a daylong seminar on April 2 in Sao Paolo hosted by CNI, the Brazilian industry confederation, the groups underscored the critical importance to business of the WTO “as the proper and only way to guarantee the full range of rules and necessary predictability to promote global economic and investment growth.” The seminar, titled “Reforming the WTO: Proposals for Improving the Governance of the Multilateral Trading System,” was co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Industrial Development Director of CNI Carlos Eduardo Abijaodi presented the joint statement to Tim Yeend, chief of staff to the WTO director general. CNI and USCIB were joined by Union Industrial Argentina (UIA), Business Europe and COMEX of Mexico to participate in the seminar and to underline shared views on the crucial role the WTO plays in providing and enforcing the vital legal rules and procedures underpinning the global trading system.
The five associations emphasized their shared view that the WTO needs to updated and reformed to deal with several outstanding challenges. Senior representatives of all five national business groups were panel speakers, offering business perspectives on the importance of the WTO, its challenges, and possible solutions. Global Policy Director for the ICC’s network Nikolaus Schultze also participated actively in the seminar and laid out the need for strong business input into the WTO reform effort.
In their statement, the industry groups focused on four areas:
- saving the WTO dispute resolution system
- updating, strengthen and modernizing WTO rules
- improving WTO’s monitoring function
- expanding and improving the WTO’s rule-making function.
The groups also called upon WTO members to establish a formal consultative mechanism for the private sector via a permanent business advisory committee.
USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly who represented USCIB at the seminar in Sao Paulo, praised CNI and ICC hosts for organizing the session. “We at USCIB are committed partners with CNI and, of course, with ICC, as we are ICC of the U.S.,” said Donnelly. “Today’s discussions, which also included senior WTO and Brazilian Government officials, were candid, substantive and very timely. I was honored to speak on the ‘Business Priorities for the WTO’ panel along with my four association partners and to partner with them in issuing our joint statement. For us at USCIB, the WTO and WTO reform are top priorities. Today we joined with four key partners from Europe, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico to add an international accent to our work on and commitment to the WTO. We and our member companies want to work with all our partners, including the U.S. Government, the U.S. Congress, the International Chamber of Commerce, the WTO Secretariat and our unique network of leading business association partners around the world to help make the WTO the well-respected, updated, strengthened organization we all need it to be.”
The joint statement follows upon USCIB’s earlier paper on WTO modernization, which focused on addressing subsidies and other market-distorting support provided to state-owned enterprises, the establishment of new rules for current issues such as digital trade and customs processes on electronic transmissions, and ensuring a properly functioning appellate body, among other issues.