More than 200 Saudi business leaders met to discuss ICC's G20 Advisory Group and Business World Trade Agenda initiatives, to gather feedback from the main economy in the Middle East region and a G20 and WTO member. Attendees included Mohammed Al-Kathiri, Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi business leaders present agreed on a need for greater access to markets by means of trade facilitation, as well as by the importance of measuring the progress of the G20 Summit cycle.
Mr Al-Kathiri said that Saudi Arabia's economic policies sought to reach markets, manage borders, develop infrastructure, and foster enterprise development. While Mr Al -Kurdi urged that ICC should build its G20 representations and trade and investment work around "three Ps": policy development, priority setting, and performance monitoring and follow-up.
“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,” said Stefano Bertasi, ICC Executive Director of Policy. “Meetings such as this one encourage us to continue our mission.”
Other speakers included Khalid Al-Otaibi, Secretary General of the Council of Saudi Chambers, and Montaser Sadiq Al-Mohammed, Vice-Chair, ICC Saudi Arabia.
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.
Business recommendations from this event – and a host of other consultations that ICC has held globally – will be delivered to 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 initiative has developed five recommendations that could achieve tangible outcomes by the end of 2013, to harvest gains from the WTO’s Doha Development Round. These are:
- 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
According to a recent study from the Peterson Institute in Washington DC, by simplifying customs procedures – through trade facilitation measures – alone, WTO member countries would deliver global job gains of 21 million. The report, Payoff from the World Trade Agenda 2013, estimates that developing countries would gain more than 18 million of these jobs and developed countries would increase their workforce by three million.
The report, commissioned by the ICC Research Foundation, also forecast that the payoff from liberalizing trade in services could generate world trade gains of US$1.1 trillion, which would translate into global employment gains of nine million jobs.
The World Trade Agenda and G20 tracks are complementary. World Trade Agenda proposals will feed into the G20 policy process, with the aim of strengthening the trade and investment policy component of the G20 agenda.
The World Trade Agenda was launched in response to calls from WTO members and from G20 leaders for fresh approaches following an 11-year impasse in multilateral trade negotiations. Business recommendations from this initiative will be delivered to G20 leaders and WTO ministers ahead of both the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg and the Bali WTO Ministerial Conference.
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