H.E. Hamad Buamim, chairman of the ICC-World Chambers Federation and president and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, calls on leading economies to work towards a more inclusive system of globalisation and free trade
We live in a world that is more prosperous than at any other time in our history. Through trade and globalisation, we have raised living standards, boosted economic growth across nations, created wealth and eradicated many diseases.
In 2010 – five years ahead of schedule – the United Nations achieved its Millennium Development Goal to halve poverty, placing the world on track to eradicate poverty outside of Africa by the year 2050.
Globalisation and trade have been critical to this progress but now major challenges threaten the positive trajectory.
The 10 worst major global weather events in 2018 – each of which can be directly linked to climate change – caused $84.8bn in damage, according to research by the charity Christian Aid.
From floods in Japan, China and India to wildfires in California, these events had direct and indirect consequences for global trade.
They also served to remind us that climate change does not discriminate between developed and developing economies. Without prompt action, the future impact on trade – damage to infrastructure and the disruption of supply chains, labour and capital flows – will be colossal.
Such events change the comparative advantages of economies, their trade flows and patterns. When combined with the rise in 4IR technologies, trade tensions and imbalances, growing protectionism and inequality, the global trade landscape becomes even more volatile and unpredictable.
NEW POLITICAL AGENDAS
Against this already challenging backdrop, quarrelling between trade giants, new tariffs and sweeping protectionist policies in major economies, create a domino effect that stifles investment flows, employment and growth, and eclipses any possible short-term gains.
Trade tensions hinder cooperation on global challenges, from improving the multilateral trading system to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. At the ICC-World Chambers Federation and within Dubai Chamber, we believe that great things can be achieved when stakeholders from government and business share knowledge, and align their efforts to solve challenges and work towards common goals. Further, we support the IMF’s advice to address domestic economic issues head on, as opposed to implementing tariffs.
FAIR TRADE IN FOCUS
As a supporter and facilitator of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Japan has an unrivalled ability to promote a new international trade agenda that leads by example.
Not only does CPTPP realise high levels of liberalisation, it also raises the standard of trade and investment rules, which will improve the corporate business environment and contribute to the development of a seamless supply chain in the Asia Pacific region.
We can learn from Japan’s experience in removing tariffs, promoting free trade, and of driving productivity alongside innovation.
Now Japan has taken the important step of leveraging its G20 presidency to advocate for a fairer global trading environment for all players, through WTO reform. There is no doubt this will bring tremendous economic benefits.
However, this rules-based framework must adapt to meet future challenges and incorporate the adoption of advanced technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, that are reshaping trade as we know it. Trade regulation must be adapted to reflect e-commerce activity and facilitate the sector’s future development within existing multilateral trading systems.
VOICES OF BUSINESS
Chambers of commerce and businesses around the world are in a unique position to create more inclusive solutions that drive prosperity and help SMEs access global opportunities.
Strong voices are vital, and the role of the ICC-World Chambers Federation as the voice of global business is now all the more important.
The ICC-WCF advocates for business by highlighting the important role of the private sector in the development of facilitation strategies, through public-private partnerships. At the same time, it encourages large enterprises to integrate SMEs in their supply chains, so more businesses can participate in – and leverage the benefits of – globalisation.
We call on all segments of the global community – chambers of commerce, public and private sector players, investors, and academic and research institutions – to collaborate and develop new solutions that address our greatest challenges.
The G20 and the World Trade Organization must use their platforms to foster cooperation and develop inclusive solutions that ensure globalisation serves the greater good, through innovation, multilateralism and sustainability.