Reforming the Multilateral Rules-Based Trading System



International Chamber of Commerce

Recognising the challenges, criticism and unprecedented pressure faced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) system, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has unveiled a groundbreaking set of recommendations to guide the future of international trade.

The ICC recommendations ‘Reforming the Multilateral Rules-Based Trading System: The outcomes we want for people and planet,’ provide an outcomes-based approach to reforming international trade with the overriding objective of making trade work for people and planet. Despite current global trade tensions, ICC’s recommendations affirm the importance of multilateral trade and the WTO system. While the pillars of today’s multilateral trade system have reached their limits, ICC believes that a comprehensive reform process will enhance the functioning of the WTO and trade for all.

ICC identifies the following five priority areas for reform:

  1. Strengthen WTO governance and accountability
  2. Review and update the existing WTO rulebook
  3. Accelerate new rule making
  4. Establish robust and trusted dispute settlement mechanisms
  5. Promote regime coherence

On the release of the recommendations, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said: “International trade has fueled decades of economic growth and development. But the rulebook we have is ill-designed to cope with the disruptions of our digitalised and complex world, or to share the benefits of globalisation in an more equitable way. Our recommendations, on behalf of 45 million companies worldwide, aim to modernise the global trading system while safeguarding a rules-based approach that works to protect our planet and empower everyone, every day, everywhere.”

The recommendations represent the latest cooperative effort between ICC and the WTO to reform and strengthen the multilateral global trade system. ICC has worked collectively with the governments of Canada and France to host a series of roundtable discussions on the future relationship between trade and climate change. As part of the WTO Public Forum, ICC, Canada and France will co-host a session on trade and climate change on 10 October. This is the third session in a roundtable series, with the intention of publishing the group’s findings at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2020.

In October 2018, Mr Denton and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo launched the Global Dialogue on Trade, an online platform facilitating exchange among multilateral institutions, think tanks and businesses to provide recommendations for upgrading and enhancing the multilateral trade system.

Separately, ICC in cooperation with B20 established a digital platform for Trade Dialogues. Launched in 2016, the Trade Dialogues have brought together business leaders from around the world to identify the opportunities and challenge associated with today’s international trade system and to discuss how the World Trade Organization (WTO) can help improve the facilitation of global trade operations.

This new digital platform for Trade Dialogues was announced by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo in May 2019 at a meeting at the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEFD), which was attended by Mr Denton and Chair of the B20, Mr Ichiro Hara.

Read ICC’s recommendations on reforming the multilateral rule-based trading system.


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