28 May 2020
ICC Chair Paul Polman addressed a high-level United Nations event on financing for development today, underscoring the business imperative to ensure universal access to COVID-19 supplies and continued fiscal interventions to protect lives and livelihoods.
Convened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, the virtual High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond sought to advance concrete solutions to the development emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on behalf of 45 million businesses as Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, Mr Polman announced ICC collaboration with Global Citizen in calling for forward-looking international cooperation to ensure universal access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines through the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign:
“This is not just a moral issue. There is also a cast-iron business case for equity to be foundational to response to the public-health response to COVID-19.”
“A sustainable economic recovery will only be possible if the virus is contained globally. Simply put: a country that is free from the virus will not be immune from the economic impacts of outbreaks in other parts around the world,” Mr Polman stated.
Underscoring the essential role of trade policy in facilitating equitable access, Mr Polman said:
“Leadership is urgently required from the G20 – and, more broadly, members of the WTO – to establish a cogent roadmap to ensure that the access to a future vaccine is not artificially restricted by trade restrictions as governments scramble to secure supply.”
Citing ICC estimates that a possible US$5 trillion of trade financing capacity will be needed in 2021 to restore global commerce to its pre-COVID-19 trend, Mr Polman said:
“The scale of the disruption means that further fiscal interventions will inevitably be needed to enable SMEs to weather the crisis and – hopefully – build back better.”
Mr Polman also called for a new global roadmap in the wake of COVID-19 to provide systematic and comprehensive debt relief:
“G7 leaders can now consider themselves “on notice” that we expect them to make bold financial commitments to ensure universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines at their summit next month,” he said.
“The global private sector stands squarely with the UN and with all governments in responding to the crisis,” he concluded.
ICC is the only private sector organisation with Observer Status at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and proudly supports UN Missions and goals as the voice of global business in several UN specialised agencies.
Read the full intervention here.