31 January 2020
ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO has responded to the outbreak of a new coronavirus which has infected thousands and led to the deaths of more than 200 people.
In a message to the ICC global network, Mr Denton said:
“Businesses worldwide are now taking actions to support the government and people of China in their response efforts. We too must demonstrate our support as the global institutional representative of many businesses in China and many more in newly affected countries.”
Mr Denton underscored that contributing to a coordinated effort to protect lives, livelihoods and the global economy is in line with the ICC purpose to enable business to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all.
Issued on the same day that the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global emergency, Mr Denton said that ICC was also taking every precaution to protect its worldwide staff from the potential health risks of the coronavirus. He also extended a message of hope and support to members of ICC’s growing network in China – including ICC representatives and colleagues in the country and Chinese members of the ICC Executive Board.
“We can already begin to appreciate the devastating impact this potential pandemic will have on communities at a human level as well as an economic level,” said Mr Denton. “ICC is working to identify effective ways to support authorities on the ground by rallying our ICC global network to do what they can to support those seeking to mitigate the effects of the virus.”
Speaking on the potential impact of the virus on the global economy in an interview with international news television network France 24, ICC Director of Global Policy Nikolaus Schultze said that the epidemic was already having a negative impact, wiping out US$1.4trn from global markets, with early impact particularly on the automotive, luxury and travel-related sectors.
Mr Schultze said that China today was in a very different situation than it was during the 2003 outbreak of SARS as the epidemic hits a weakening economy – with the lowest growth rate in 30 years. But at the same time, the Chinese economy has both a much larger weight and interconnection in the world economy, while the service sector had taken a larger share in its GDP. This, Mr Schultze said, makes China and the world economy more vulnerable to the consequences of a prolonged outbreak.