I’m delighted to provide an update on what has been a very busy start to 2016.
ICC Chairman Terry McGraw was the lead representative of the global business community at the launch of this year’s B20 process in Beijing on 26 January. The meeting marked the beginning of the business policy development process in the run-up to the 2016 G20 Summit scheduled to take place in Hangzhou in September.
ICC’s delegation—which included several CEOs from our G20 Advisory Group—committed to support the B20 China process and outlined our initial priorities on trade, investment, infrastructure, finance, SMEs and anti-corruption.
The event also saw the launch of the latest edition of the annualICC G20 Business Scorecard, which rates G20 responsiveness to key business policy priorities. This year’s Scorecard shows G20 progress on a number of international business priorities, but highlights some important missed opportunities to advance trade and international investment policy frameworks. The Scorecard was cited widely at the B20 launch event as a vital tool to promote G20 responsiveness to business needs and we look forward to constructive engagement with the B20 China process going forward.
While the theme of Davos 2016 was the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, the storm clouds gathering over the global economy understandably took center-stage during the annual meeting of business, political and civic leaders. Here are just a few of the highlights from our engagement during the 2016 Forum:
Just two years ago trade flows were predicted to grow at 7% in 2015, but new World Bank data shows that global trade grew by less than 3% last year. One of our key messages at this year’s Forum was the need for governments to work constructively with business to reinvigorate trade as a driver of growth and jobs.
Speaking on a panel session on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) moderated by Thomas Friedman, I called for business leaders to do more to make the case for open markets. A quick analysis of media coverage from 2015 shows that over 60% of features on the TPP had an identifiable negative bias—a trend which has clearly influenced pockets of opposition to this strategically important agreement. With ratification of the TPP by no means a “done deal” in each of the signatory states, it will be vital for business to engage constructively with parliamentarians and the public to ensure that the benefits of the agreement are fully understood.
On the multilateral front, it’s clear that there is an opportunity to stake out priority parameters for the World Trade Organization following its 10th Ministerial Conference last December. We expect WTO members to actively pursue agreements among coalitions of the willing—so called plurilateral deals—in areas which are not currently covered by multilateral rules. Possible areas of focus for new talks have been suggested as competition policy, investment, digital commerce and small businesses.
Davos was a first chance to sound out such ideas and we were delighted to host a CEO breakfast with the WTO’s Director- General, Roberto Azevedo, during the Forum. ICC attendees included: Sunil Bharti Mittal (First Vice Chairman), Fred Curado (Vice Chairman), and Cherie Nursalim (Executive Board member). It’s clear that the WTO is keen to do more to engage with the business community as it maps out its future negotiating agenda and I am confident that ICC is well positioned to play a central role in the process in the months ahead.
Sustainable Development Goals
The start of 2016 saw the official entry into force of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—an agenda which will be very much front and centre of ICC’s activities over the coming year.
Since 2000, the world has seen extreme poverty more than halved. Business—which provides 60% of GDP, 80% of inward capital flows and 90% of jobs in developing countries—has been central to this success story, but can play a greater and more constructive role in realising growth and development opportunities in the future.
In this context, I was delighted to be selected as a founding member of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development. The Commission—launched at a major event during Davos—will work over the next year to articulate and quantify the economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the SDGs. I look forward to engaging with all ICC members on this important work in the months ahead.
The need to support SME growth was another key message in our oureach during the Forum. In meetings with a number of CEOs I discussed the need to address the chronic shortage of finance which is clearly impacting small business growth. This issue will be a key area of focus for the new World SME Forum, whose activities will be quickly scaled up over the first quarter of this year.
Our outreach at Davos 2016 attracted significant media attention—with over 200 articles citing ICC in the print media worldwide and a social media campaign that reached over a quarter of a million people. This is an indication of the growing awareness of ICC and our vital role as the world business organization.
Thank you for your continued support for ICC and I look forward to working with you to make 2016 a successful year for global business.
With best wishes,