12 March 2020
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has issued a call for G20 leaders to urgently agree on a comprehensive global action plan to address the escalating COVID-19 outbreak, and restore confidence and stability to the global economy.
Following yesterday’s decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) to designate COVID-19 as a global pandemic, ICC believes that coordinated action among the world’s largest economies is urgently needed to boost ongoing efforts to manage the spread of the outbreak – while minimizing the potential social and economic impacts of COVID-19.
In an open letter to Saudi King, Salman bin Abdulaziz – President of this year’s G20 process – ICC Chair Paul Polman and Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO called for leaders to agree on coordinated steps to: ensure access to essential medical supplies; scale public health financing to tackle COVID-19; and restore confidence and stability in the global economy.
ICC has expressed particular concerns about the growing impact of trade policy measures on the availability of medical supplies needed to respond to the pandemic. In this connection, the organisation has called on G20 leaders to show urgent leadership by committing to:
- avoid export bans or limits on the free flow of all necessary medical supplies, medicines, disinfectant, soap and personal protective equipment;
- reverse existing export bans on medical supplies needed to tackle COVID-19; and
- reduce the costs of all necessary medical supplies by lifting import taxes, quotas and other government-imposed costs.
Commenting on the release of the letter, Mr Denton said:
“We see a growing risk of unilateral actions that may ultimately undermine the necessary global response to a threat that knows no borders. That’s why we think it’s imperative for G20 leaders to meet virtually and agree a comprehensive action plan to complement the impressive work of the World Health Organization in containing the effects of this pandemic.
“An immediate priority must be to agree on a common approach to ease the supply of essential medical equipment and medicines to where it is needed most. Our experience through the global financial crisis shows that G20 leaders are also uniquely placed to take steps to restore market stability and rebuild economic confidence. Collective action – under the leadership of the Saudi Presidency – is urgently needed to minimise the potential human and economic toll of COVID-19”.
As the institutional representative of over 45 million companies in more than 100 countries, ICC is working to mobilise businesses worldwide to take action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and stands ready to assist the Saudi Presidency and G20 leaders in any way possible in developing a coordinated action plan to robustly address the current pandemic.