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          WTO deadline critical for economic growth and jobs, ICC tells trade ministers

          • Paris, 28 July 2014

          The International Chamber of Commerce is rallying its global network to highlight the adverse consequences of missing a first deadline to implement the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The ICC action follows reports that a small number of WTO members, including India, have proposed postponing implementation until negotiations on other aspects of the accords reached in Bali last year are complete.

          Why the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement matters to us all

          In a letter sent to over 100 trade ministers worldwide, ICC Chairman Harold McGraw and Secretary General John Danilovich forewarn trade ministers that failure to meet the deadline would stall multilateral trade liberalization momentum and prevent developing and developed countries alike from reaping the benefits of the deal, which if fully implemented would lead to significant increases in growth worldwide.

          “It is our concern that such a course of action would not only deal a significant blow to the global economy, but would also side-track the progress that you made in Bali and undermine prospects for securing future pro-development agreements under the auspices of the WTO,” the letter said.

          Recognizing the importance of reaching an agreement on food security commitments contained in the Bali package, ICC said that legal adoption of the TFA now would create an environment within the WTO conducive to advancing dialogue on this vital issue in the coming months.

          ICC calls on all WTO trade ministers to consider the benefits of the TFA to businesses in their respective economies and stressing that trade facilitation reforms would improve border and customs processes and lead to new market opportunities for businesses large and small, in both developed and developing economies.

          “The TFA will lead to significant increases in growth worldwide and it is in our shared interest to operationalize it in a timely and efficient way,” the ICC letter stated. “If fully implemented by all WTO members, the TFA and associated reforms could deliver over time an additional US$1 trillion to the world economy—in the process generating as many as 21 million jobs, with 18 million created in developing countries.”

          Seeking the support in building consensus in favour of implementing the TFA's legal text by the July 31 deadline, ICC is urging ministers to keep pressing to find a workable solution to the current impasse until the very last moment saying: “Progress now should not be held hostage to further delays that would jeopardize the wider economic benefits for us all—businesses, governments and consumers.”

          The rapid implementation and ratification of the TFA topped a list of priorities for action by G20 leaders recently set out by business at the Business-20 Summit which took place in Sydney earlier this month.

          ICC Chairman Harold McGraw said: “Business and governments must cooperate and the voice of business needs to be louder. On behalf of millions of businesses and associations worldwide, ICC continues to work with governments to identify and prioritize areas where results can be achieved by WTO members.”

          On behalf of global business, ICC has pledged support for legal adoption of the TFA and for moving forward to complete the Doha Development Agenda acknowledging the key role of the private sector to deploy its technical expertise and experience.

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