The meeting in June was the second Trade Dialogues event with the business community. It was held at the request of the ICC and the B20, and facilitated by the WTO. Following the June meeting, four groups of business representatives continued discussions on how to deal with today's trade challenges.
The resulting business recommendations were presented during a session at the Public Forum by ICC Secretary General John Denton, the B20 Chair Mr Daniel Funes de Rioja and B20 Policy Sherpa Fernando Landa. Director-General Roberto Azevêdo attended the session and delivered the opening remarks.
DG Azevêdo said: "Reaching consensus amongst businesses is just one element of the equation. You also have to bring your ideas and suggestions to the members themselves, and work with them to drive your issues forward.
"For that to happen, it is vital to engage with governments directly, and with other stakeholders who also inform members’ positions. This must be a constant process. Therefore, I am delighted you are using the Public Forum for this continued exchange." His full speech is available here.
Secretary General Denton said: "We know it is a particularly challenging time for the multilateral trading system and the point we made when we met in June was that the ICC stands willing and able to engage in constructive discussions to facilitate a continuing role for multilateralism in global commerce. We think it is in everyone's interest and we also think that it is the higher probability that this will lead to peace and prosperity.
"We would like to see some movements in the role of the WTO to support e-commerce and the digital economy and also on the role of the multilateral trading system in supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The business community is extremely engaged in the SDGs and we want to make sure that the actions from the multilateral trading system and the WTO are in support of that as well."
Mr Funes de Rioja said: "We are all convinced of the need for a strong multilateral trading system, with the main values of open trade and a level playing field for all for achieving inclusive development. Certainly, the WTO has been the cornerstone of this system. We ask the WTO to have the proper mechanism, not only to avoid trade distortions but also to adapt the rules for the new digital age. We are ready to play our role in order to have a good multilateral system. We think the future of fair global trade is based on multilateralism.
"Business encourages the WTO to capitalise on the current engagement on regulatory cooperation in the area of investment. We believe a multilateral approach in investment can be a cost-effective alternative to bilateral negotiations. An investment facilitation agreement should focus on transparency, predictability and cutting red tape."
Mr Fernando Landa said: "When we talk about small and medium sized enterprises, the issue cuts across every trade aspect that you can think of. Predictable rules are fundamental for MSMEs, and the availability of information is also important to them. Trade facilitation has a great impact on MSMEs. We need to better acknowledge that trade is increasingly happening in small packages, and we need to be prepared to deal with this. We need to consider how to revisit these areas that are important for MSMEs.
"We need to discuss things that are simple and also those that are difficult. The initiative on MSMEs is one that should move forward. This is something that we would encourage our B20 leaders to get involved in and to be proactive."
In their recommendations, the business representatives reaffirm their strong support for the WTO and stress that the stability, predictability and transparency provided by the multilateral trading system are crucial for supporting growth, development and job creation.
Their full list of recommendations is available here.
The Trade Dialogues event in June 2018 brought together over 60 senior business representatives to discuss the challenges they face in global trade. Participants were from small and large enterprises, from developed, developing and least-developed countries and from a variety of sectors.
For more information, visit the Trade Dialogues webpage.