It is now beyond doubt that we face real and significant challenges to free trade from populism and nationalism greater than at any time since World War II. Recent developments in relation to Brexit and the Trump administration, including the intent to introduce tariffs on a unilateral basis, underline the threat to the global economy at a time when underlying growth is beginning to pick up across the world.
ICC’s mission is to promote open, rules-based multilateral trade and investment, the market economy system, sustainable economic growth, responsible business conduct, and a global approach to regulation. These objectives are pursued through a combination of policy advocacy, practical tools and rule-setting activities by business, including market-leading dispute resolution services. ICC in the UK has committed to supporting this objective and working with and encouraging British business leaders to take on a more prominent role.
ICC successfully hosted 50 countries in the UK last year and represented the UK at the United Nations, G20 and World Trade Organization (WTO) ten times. We also increased UK participation in B20 by over 170% and paved the way to put a digital trade expert on the ground in Geneva on a permanent basis to support business and WTO member governments in 2018.
2018 is a critical year for the UK. The government still faces significant challenges to find a solution to border controls that don’t impose unnecessary costs and barriers to SMEs and supply chains. It is also critical that the arrangements in relation to the transition period are concluded in a way that does not risk a cliff-edge for significant parts of our economy.
With ICC’s centenary coming up in 2019, it is a useful reminder of the important role ICC plays as a convener of business around the critical issues of the day. This isn’t the first time we have faced serious challenges, but we shouldn’t take this for granted. I would welcome your support in standing up for benefits of free trade values and to help us strengthen the voice of British business at international level.