28 September 2020
ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO has outline three priorities for reviving the global economy as quickly and as safely as possible in the COVID-19 era.
Speaking today at a conference jointly organised by ICC and the China Council for International Cooperation, Mr Denton underscored the imperative to keep markets open and enhance cooperation saying that getting the balance right could have huge dividends: “We cannot respond to COVID-19 based on fear, distrust and entrenched global isolationism. But rather we must build on creativity, connectivity and mutual benefit. That is how we achieve long-term gains for everyone, such as inclusive growth and sustainability,” he said.
Outlining areas for action, Mr Denton told participates gathering online that an immediate priority must be to develop a global and inclusive approach to the key medical tools to fight COVID. In this regard, Mr Denton announced the launch of a new global campaign in support of the “Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator” – to ensure equitable access to, and allocation of, the most critical health tools to fight Covid-19: vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. ICC is the only representative of the private sector on ACT-A’s advisory committee, working alongside heads of government and UN agencies to deliver genuine insights and expertise from the real economy.
Mr Denton also underscored the need to improve the World Trade Organization and the multilateral trading system calling on governments to stop debating problems and start agreeing on solutions.
“We have long known the challenges – few breakthroughs in 20 years, new forms of protectionism emerging with increasing frequency, and now a disabled dispute settlement system,” Mr Denton said. “But there is also a significant opportunity to be seized – Governments are presently selecting a new Director-General and there is a growing consensus that the WTO needs a reset, even if there are disagreements about what that might look like and how it should be achieved.”
A third priority, Mr Denton said, was to support the systems that support trade, including by building the resilience of supply chains currently under threat from thinly-veiled protectionist measures – and coordinated public interventions to ensure availability of trade finance credit to SMEs.
“If much government discourse around supply chains is perhaps exaggerating a problem to justify a solution, there is not enough attention on the systemic problems in trade finance markets and very few proposed solutions,” Mr Denton said. “Simply put: if the world is banking on a trade-led recovery, we better make sure the banks can finance global trade. And that will require a possible US$5 trillion to flow to the real economy – something that just won’t happen without major, coordinated public interventions.”
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