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  • Singapore business community joins global business leaders in call for G20 leaders to renew commitment to a rules-based multilateral trading system

Singapore business community joins global business leaders in call for G20 leaders to renew commitment to a rules-based multilateral trading system

  • At the Business 20 (B20) Tokyo Summit this year, SBF represented the Singapore business community in the B20 process which provides business inputs to G20 leaders.
  • This year’s B20 policy recommendations revolve around the theme of Society 5.0 to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  
  • The multi-faceted recommendations included the need to establish a global data governance framework, promote inclusive growth and establish quality infrastructure for all.

14 - 15 March 2019 [Tokyo, Japan]At the B20 Tokyo Summit this year, SBF represented the Singapore business community in joining the call of global business leaders for G20 leaders to renew their commitment to the rules-based multilateral trading system as defined at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Held annually, the B20 Summit is a significant platform for global business leaders to put forth policy recommendations to the G20 leaders. This year’s summit was held in Tokyo, ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Osaka this June. On behalf of Singapore’s business community, SBF, led by CEO Ho Meng Kit, took part in B20, alongside Singapore’s participation in G20 as a guest country.

Focused on the theme of Society 5.0 to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, this year’s B20 policy recommendations cover digital transformation, trade and investments, energy and the environment, infrastructure, the future of work, health and well-being, and responsible business conduct.

Need for WTO Reform

As engines of global growth and development, international trade and investment have contributed to considerable progress in eradicating poverty. However, business leaders recognised that there is a need to reform the WTO by improving its dispute settlement, rule-making and compliance monitoring functions. There is also a need for the WTO to update its rules to reflect prevailing economic models and business concerns and institutionalise a multi-stakeholder consultation mechanism. International rules would have to be strengthened to protect intellectual property and improve market access to goods and services. This would ensure a level playing field, promote cross-border investment, and support the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises’ into global value chains.

Data without Borders

Another key B20 recommendation centres on the development of global policy and regulatory frameworks to enable the free circulation of data across borders. Recognising the potential of digital technologies in transforming economies and improving the well-being of communities, the recommendation includes establishing the next-generation global data governance framework, realising a WTO rule on e-commerce, and promoting international cooperation in the field of cybersecurity.

As a participant in the panel discussion on “Trade & Investment for All: Securing a Level Playing Field and Connectivity Through Resilient Rules” at the summit, Mr Ho shared perspectives from ASEAN, from which the rest of the world could draw lessons from. These include maintaining ongoing peace in the region, observing strong multilateral rules and the primacy of the WTO. Countries should remain neutral and welcoming to all economies, pursue greater economic integration and develop forward-looking rules on areas such as e-commerce and services.

Other participants of the panel discussion were Mr John Denton, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Mr Yi Xiaozhun, Deputy Director-General of the WTO, Mr Masami Iijima, Vice-Chairman of Keidanren and Chairman of Mitsui & Co, Mr Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, US Chamber of Commerce, and Mr Markus Beyrer, Director General of BusinessEurope.

Mr Ho said, “The global business leaders meet at this year’s B20 Tokyo Summit amid testing times, in view of the yet-to-be resolved US-China trade tensions, Brexit, and where confidence in free trade appears to be waning. Despite this, there is scope for us to be optimistic about the G20 Osaka Summit.

“This is the year where G20 returns to Asia, a region which is driving global growth. There is scope for Japan to play a leadership role, similar to what it did with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, to set the tone for WTO reform, the development of global policy and regulatory frameworks to enable the free circulation of data and information across borders which will help to unleash benefits of the digital economy, and the Trade in Services Agreement. We look forward to a G20 Osaka Action Plan that will lead the world into a better place.”

Mr Hiroaki Nakanishi, Chairman of Keidanren, the national business chamber of Japan, formally handed the B20’s policy recommendations over to Mr Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan and the Chair of this year’s G20 at the end of the B20 Summit on 15 March.

The full set of B20 policy recommendations can found in Annex A.

Click here for photograph of Mr Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, with participants of the B20 Tokyo Summit. 



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