Ai Group joins call for stable international trade regime

In collaboration with the national industry associations of G20 countries, the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has called for action to confront the dissolution of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement system.

The WTO established the rule-based framework that Australian manufacturing businesses that rely on international exports and imports depend upon. With Australia’s export of manufactured products reaching a net worth of $4.5 billion in April 2019, and manufacturer’s dependency upon a range of imports from primary products to services, a stable and effective international trade regime is crucial to the sector’s success.

The Ai Group joined with 13 businesses associations from Germany, Brazil, Turkey, Spain, the UK, India, Canada, France and others, to issue a statement that called for leaders to, “Find solutions within the existing framework that ensure an impartial process and binding rulings on all WTO matters”.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox highlighted how essential clarity on trade is for local enterprises.

“A stable and functional World Trade Organisation plays a crucial role in protecting Australia’s prosperity now and into the future. One in five Australian jobs depend on trade,” said Willox.

The global business leaders noted how fundamental the WTO architecture is for international economic collaboration.

“The current crisis of the WTO and ongoing trade conflicts threaten the predictability, stability, and openess in global trade, therefore also endangering global cooperation, development, and peace,” noted the statement.

The leaders highlighted how all three pillars of the WTO — rule-making and liberalization, monitoring, and dispute settlement — should be updated and undergo reform.

The G20 Ministerial Statement on Trade and the Digital Economy noted these concerns, and concurred that action needs to be taken. The ministers noted that they will work constructively with other WTO members to pursue reform with a sense of urgency.