Business leaders call for progress in world trade talks

London, 14 April – Leaders of some of the largest companies in the UK have today issued a statement warning of a potential collapse in the Doha Round of world trade talks.

In an open letter to the Financial Times, the CEOs and Chairmen of 8 major firms—including BT, Rolls Royce and Unilever—highlighted business’ concerns at recent reports of a major impasse in the talks in Geneva. Significant gaps in the negotiating positions of key trading powers have called into question whether governments will be able to meet their stated goal of striking a deal by the end of 2011.

The letter, which was released at the initiative of the London office of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), calls on world leaders to make the “tough compromises” needed to lock-in some of the hard-won gains already on the negotiating table. The business leaders wrote:

“Existing offers alone could render Doha the most ambitious global deal ever negotiated—providing the basis for deep tariff cuts in key areas, technical reforms to make doing business abroad easier, and simpler mechanisms to resolve trade disputes.”

Following the release of the statement, Stephen Pattison, Director of ICC’s UK operations, said:

“We need the G-20 leaders to recommit their negotiators to land a high-level deal by late-spring. If this can’t be achieved we risk losing many of the vital gains already on the negotiating table.”

Mr Pattison added:

“The centrality of the Doha Round to the G-20’s economic agenda should not be underestimated.”

“What’s more, having committed to strike a deal by the end of the year, the credibility of the G-20 is very much at stake. The international community must take this final opportunity to get a deal done.”

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Notes to editors:

1.  The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the largest, most representative business organisation in the world. As a global organisation, we work to further international trade by promoting open markets, sensible regulation and the rule of law. In the UK, ICC’s London office provides business views to UK policy-makers and regulators on a range of issues ranging from corporate responsibility to taxation. Members in the UK include 17 of the top 20 FTSE companies, many smaller firms, law firms and business associations.

2.  For media enquiries, please contact Andrew Wilson on: +44 (0)20 7838 7458 or +44 (0)7860 560 330.