Doha, 16 November 2012

Business leaders from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) gathered in Doha to provide regional input on the recommendations of the World Trade Agenda to drive WTO multilateral trade talks out of an 12-year deadlock and “beyond Doha”.

Agenda

The consultation was held to discuss the WTA business priorities. These draw on the recommendations of the Mexico 2012 B20 Task Force on Trade and Investment, as well as developments in relevant intergovernmental forums such as the outcomes of the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference, the 2012 G20 Summit in Los Cabos, and input from international trade experts.

Regional perspectives on trade and investment policy

One key development challenge in the coming decade for the MENA region would be to create sufficient jobs for a rapidly growing work force, which was predicted to increase from five hundred thousand to over two million in the next seven years in Qatar alone.

It was widely noted among participants that trade liberalization was recognized as one of the few policy tools associated with increased labor productivity. Countries within the MENA region had started to transition from the old economic model driven by the public sector, supported by oil and state aid- an economic model that can no longer generate faster growth or jobs. A new model, one more reliant on trade and private investment, promised to support faster growth and jobs needed throughout the region.

Conclusions

WTA Doha consultation

It was acknowledged that the WTO, as an intergovernmental organization, must seek to balance the needs and interests of 157 Members and the myriad of constituencies that sought to influence them. Business represented an important constituency as the stakeholders who produced and sold the goods and services traded daily throughout the world.

Participants emphasized the need to continue providing input to governments in the lead up to the next the next G20 Summit in Russia in September 2013 and the next WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013.

Selected quotes

Cropped Doha 2012 full room

“The ICC Business World Trade Agenda has great potential benefits for economies in the Middle East and North Africa. As economies in this region continue to grow, it is becoming increasingly important for countries to diversify their export of goods and services and to further integrate themselves into the global economy.”

Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman, Qatar Chamber and ICC Qatar

“Governments must unblock current trade negotiations to increase international trade and investment, which are great potential engines of economic growth and job creation. In the context of the economic crisis, trade and investment could unleash a debt-free stimulus to the global economy.”

Jean-Guy Carrier, ICC Secretary General, Paris

“The most important development challenge in the coming decade for the MENA region will be to create enough jobs for our rapidly growing work force. Countries within the MENA region are starting to transition from the old economic model, driven by the public sector, to a new more sustainable model that is more reliant on trade and private investment, promising to support faster growth and job creation.”

Ms Dina Abo Onoq, Chair of the ICC Banking Commission, Saudi Arabia

"Qatar Chamber is proud to support the ICC Business World Trade Agenda initiative. Business strongly believes that advancing global trade negotiations is crucial for further economic development in this region.”

Shiekh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman, Qatar Chamber and ICC Qatar

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