The event is part of a series of consultations that have taken place on the World Trade Agenda since it's launch in September 2012. Global consultations give local business the opportunity to be heard and provide their input into WTA recommendations.
An ICC WTA - G20 regional consultation was held on the morning of Tuesday 28 May in the Auditorium of the Council of Saudi Chambers in the presence of an audience of approximately 100 business people.
Opening presentations were made by Khalid Al-Otaibi, Secretary General, Council of Saudi Chambers; Usamah Al-Kurdi, Vice-Chair, ICC Saudi Arabia; Stefano Bertasi, Executive Director of Policy and Business Practice, ICC; Montaser Al-Mohammed, MENA regional coordinator; and Mohamed Al-Kathiri, Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, who was representing the Saudi trade minister.
A background presentation was provided on the substance and process of the ICC G20 and WTA initiatives, and how these were complementary in identifying some business-driven multilateral trade and investment policy priorities based on the Doha Development Agenda, and injecting these into the work of the G20. A lively question and answer session followed with the audience, which included perceptive questions about the ICC G20 and WTA policy development process and the substance of the WTA business priorities.
Nicolle Graugnard, Policy Manager, ICC gave a presentation on the work of the ICC Commission on Trade and Investment Policy. An invitation was issued for greater participation from ICC Saudi Arabia in the work of the ICC Trade Commission, and for a Saudi company/CEO to join the ICC G20 Advisory Group.
A gala dinner with approximately 300 guests was organized at a royal farm hosted by Eid Abdulhadi Al-Otaibi, Board Member of ICC Saudi Arabia. Just prior to the dinner, a private meeting provided an opportunity to present ICC to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs was the guest of honour at the dinner, which was preceded by introductory speeches by main hosts and guests.
Key event participants included: Abdullah Al Ammar, Chairman, ICC Saudi Arabia; Khalid Al Otaibi, Secretary General, Council of Saudi Chambers; Montaser Sadiq Yousuf Al-Mohammed, Vice-Chair, ICC Saudi Arabia and Regional Coordinator, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Consultation Group (RGC); Stefano Bertasi, Executive Director, Department of Policy and Business Practices, ICC; Nicolle Graugnard, Policy Manager, Trade and Investment Policy, ICC; and Usamah Al Kurdi, Vice Chairman, ICC Saudi Arabia.
Outcomes from the event will be fed into recommendations for G20 leaders and WTO ministers ahead of the next G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg and the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali later this year.
The meeting concluded with five recommendations that could achieve tangible outcomes by the end of 2013, to harvest gains from the WTO's Doha Development Round.
- Conclude a trade facilitation agreement
- Implement duty-free and quota-free market access for exports from least-developed countries
- Phase out agricultural export subsidies
- Renounce food export restrictions
- Expand trade in IT products and encourage growth of e-commerce worldwide
Additionally, it was also agreed that a trade and investment policy event/conference would be organized in Saudi Arabia in the beginning of 2014.
ICC Saudi Arabia and the Council of Saudi Chambers are among organizations in the ICC network helping the World Trade Agenda initiative to raise awareness on its priorities for a practical and forward-looking multilateral agenda for stimulating the global economy. These organizations, like ICC, are well placed to make such recommendations given that they represent the small-, medium- and large enterprises that produce the goods and services traded daily throughout the world.
“We have consulted broadly with business in the Middle East and elsewhere and have reached consensus that global trade liberalization could provide a debt-free and much needed stimulus to world economic growth and development. Meetings such as this one encourage us to continue our mission.”
Stefano Bertasi, ICC Executive Director, Department of Policy and Business Practices