Urge stronger political leadership to advance economic growth

Six of the world’s leading business organizations have 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 and their equivalents from around the world stressed the importance of the DDA and urged stronger political leadership to put the DDA on the road to a successful conclusion.

The statement is the first in a series of coordinated activities by the six business organizations in the run-up to the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December, 2005. The next major step in the initiative will be a CEO Summit in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2005.

“As international business leaders we know first-hand how important trade and investment liberalization is to sustained economic growth for developed and developing countries alike,” the six organizations 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 liberalization and has helped provide the security and reliability needed for worldwide economic growth and prosperity.”

The business organizations that signed the statement are:

  • Business Council of Australia (Australia)
  • 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 paper 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. It is inconceivable that the negotiations would conclude without a significant, and commercially valid, agreement to liberalize 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 world’s business leaders recognize what is at stake with these negotiations and are very concerned with the status of the DDA, which is currently more than two years behind schedule,” said Harold McGraw III, Chairman, President and CEO, The McGraw-Hill Companies and Chairman, Business Roundtable International Trade and Investment Task Force. “It is vital that WTO members not lower expectations, but instead intensify their efforts and show real progress during the months leading up to the conference in Hong Kong.”

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 liberalization could be as high as $900 billion (US) by 2015.

“We congratulate Pascal Lamy on his ascension to the position of WTO Director-General and pledge our full support for his efforts to ensure a successful completion of the DDA,” McGraw concluded.