World Business Leaders Call For Urgent Action to Save Doha Trade Round

Six of the world’s leading business organisations today called on member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intensify their efforts to achieve a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).

In a policy statement titled ‘Advancing the Promise of Doha’, chief executive officers from Australia and around the world stressed the importance of the Doha Development Agenda and urged stronger political leadership to put it on the road to a successful conclusion.

Today’s statement is the first in a series of coordinated activities by the six business organisations in the run-up to the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December this year. The next major step in the initiative will be a CEO Summit in Washington on 21 September this year.

“As international business leaders we know first-hand how important trade and investment liberalisation is to sustained economic growth for developed and developing countries alike,” the six organisations say in the statement.

“We are committed to working with the WTO leadership, our own governments, other WTO members and other international business groups to make the Doha Development Agenda a success.”

“Since its founding in 1995, the WTO has been an engine of market liberalisation and has helped provide the security and reliability needed for worldwide economic growth and prosperity.”

The business organisations that signed the statement are:

  • Business Council of Australia (Australia)
  • Business Roundtable (United States)
  • Canadian Council of Chief Executives (Canada)
  • Consejo Mexicano de Hombres de Negocios (Mexico)
  • The European Round Table of Industrialists (Europe)
  • Nippon Keidanren (Japan)

The statement outlines four keys to negotiating a successful DDA:

Agriculture: All WTO members – particularly the major players – urgently need to demonstrate the political will to make substantial progress in the agricultural negotiations and, where necessary, to take politically difficult decisions on agricultural reform. Elimination of export subsidies, sharp limits on the use of trade-distorting domestic support, and significant reductions in tariff rates and other barriers in the end will significantly benefit both exporters and consumers.

Industrial Goods: WTO members should commit to substantially reducing or eliminating tariffs on all industrial goods. Agreement on the means to achieve these objectives is long overdue.

Services: Services are central to the evolution of the global economy. The negotiations must conclude with a significant, and commercially valid, agreement to liberalise trade in services.

Trade Facilitation: Bringing down the transaction cost of trade would lead to significant and immediate gains for exporters, domestic producers and consumers around the world.

The policy statement details the benefits that would flow from a successful conclusion to the DDA negotiations and the adverse consequences that would result from its failure. For example, the World Bank estimates that the income gain for developing countries from significant services liberalisation could be as high as $900 billion (US) by 2015.

The six business organisations congratulated former European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy on his ascension to the position of WTO Director-General and pledged their full support for his efforts to ensure a successful completion of the Doha Development Agenda.

Business Council of Australia (www.bca.com.au) – The Business Council of Australia is an association of chief executives of leading Australian corporations with a combined national workforce of one million people. It was established in 1983 to provide a forum for Australian business leadership to contribute directly to public policy debates in order to build a better and more prosperous Australian society. The Business Council of Australia's aspiration is that Australia should be the best place in the world to live, learn, work and do business.

Business Roundtable (www.businessroundtable.org) is an association of chief executive officers of leading corporations with a combined workforce of more than 10 million employees and $4 trillion in annual revenues. The chief executives are committed to advocating public policies that foster vigorous economic growth, a dynamic global economy, and a well-trained and productive U.S. workforce essential for future competitiveness.

Canadian Council of Chief Executives: Founded in 1976, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (www.ceocouncil.ca) is Canada’s premier business association, with an outstanding record of achievement in matching entrepreneurial initiative with sound public policy choices. A not-for-profit, non-partisan organization composed of the chief executives of 150 leading Canadian enterprises, the CCCE was the Canadian private sector leader in the development and promotion of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement during the 1980s and of the subsequent trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement.

Consejo Mexicano de Hombres de Negocios is a non-profit organization established in 1963, grouping the CEOs of the largest Mexican private companies, most of whom also have controlling interest in them. Its mandate is to provide initiatives and efforts for Mexico’s growth and development, and to promote the image of Mexico abroad. The Council has 40 members, who in the last five years invested more than 40 billion US dollars, exported nearly 55 billion and provided direct employment to 850,000 persons.

European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT): The European Round Table of Industrialists (www.ert.be) is a forum of around 45 leaders of large internationally operating companies of European parentage. Its “core” mission is to promote the competitiveness of European industry. It expresses views on those areas most connected to its own interest and expertise, chiefly major developments which may affect the conditions essential to providing the proper environment conducive to successful business operation. Companies of ERT Members cover a wide range of industry sectors. Their combined turnover is €1,500 billion and they employ around 4.5 million people worldwide.

Nippon Keidanren (www.keidanren.or.jp) is the key representative organization for Japanese business and industry with 1,600 members. It represents the interests of 1,300 leading companies including 100 foreign ownership, 130 industrial sector associations, and 50 regional economic organizations. Keidanren is committed to contributing to the further development of the national and global economy. Keidanren proactively works towards better business environment both at home and abroad.