Trade and Investment

Trade for tomorrow: A collective call to action to make trade work for all

A container ship is seen docked at the port of New York and New Jersey in Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S., September 23, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar - RC183F148190

The call to action covers 5 key areas. Image: REUTERS/Mike Segar

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  • 30 CEOs and Chairpersons from five continents have called on world leaders to re-engage on trade reform.
  • In an open letter, they call for action in 7 key areas.
  • You can read the call to action and the signatories below.

We believe trade and investment support human development and that a global recovery can be built upon a trade recovery. Governments must creatively re-engage on trade reform and refrain from protectionism.

Trade and investment empower people to exchange goods and services, find rewarding employment, enjoy consumer benefits and grow successful businesses. Trade and investment must support development and inclusion.

Through jointly upholding environmental and social standards, trade cooperation should prevent a race to the bottom and avoid harmful distortions to markets for goods and services.

 Børge Brende President, World Economic Forum, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO
Børge Brende President, World Economic Forum, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO

Trade cooperation can improve outcomes for underrepresented members of society, including women and minorities.

It should be complemented by broader policies that support equitable outcomes, domestically and internationally, recognizing that trade and investment shocks have significant effects on livelihoods.

This includes cooperation on tax and competition regulation as well as migration and labour conditions.

International public-private cooperation should foster a resilient, efficient and inclusive trading system, building stable and coherent processes, supported by robust aid-for-trade technical assistance and capacity-building.


What is the World Economic Forum doing on trade facilitation?

We call upon leaders to, by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2021:

1. Strengthen healthcare access by lowering tariff and administrative barriers to trade in inputs and final products, facilitating global manufacturing investment, improving supply chain transparency, removing export restraints, and discussing the relationship between intellectual property rights and access to lifesaving technologies;

2. Conclude a meaningful electronic commerce agreement that improves access and interoperability, enables safe and efficient digital trade and data flows, promotes openness and trust, and addresses market access issues. Also, abstain from customs duties on electronic transmissions;

3. Conclude a meaningful investment facilitation for development agreement that improves transparency and predictability, streamlines administrative procedures, reduces disputes and enhances sustainable investment;

4. Advance meaningful environmental agreements, delivering a robust agreement on fisheries subsidies by July 2021 and reducing siloes between trade, environment and development policymaking by aligning trade action with COP26 outcomes;

5. Effectively implement and monitor commitments, employing public-private cooperation. In so doing, pay special attention to the needs of women, MSMEs and developing countries and, where current commitments are insufficient, advance new agreements to broaden access to the benefits of trade

Further, we urge leaders to engage in open and ambitious dialogue on:

6. Trade system reforms, particularly with regards to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, the role of the WTO in a diverse trade architecture and the functions of the secretariat;

7. Resolving level-playing-field concerns with respect to subsidies, state-owned enterprises, trade remedies, government procurement and domestic regulation across industrial, agriculture and service sectors.


Krishan N. Balendra, Chairman, John Keells Holdings Plc

Ajay S. Banga, Executive Chairman, Mastercard

Ankiti Bose, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Zilingo Pte Ltd

Dolf van den Brink, Chief Executive Officer, HEINEKEN NV

Levent Cakiroglu, Chief Executive Officer, Koç Holding

Hussain Dawood, Group Chairman, Dawood Hercules Corporation

Börje Ekholm, President and Chief Executive Officer, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson

Øyvind Eriksen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aker ASA

André Esteves, Senior Partner, Banco BTG Pactual SA

Jim Fitterling, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dow

Fernando Galletti de Queiroz, Chief Executive Officer, Minerva Foods

Abdulrahman Al Hatmi, Group Chief Executive, Oman Global Logistics Group SAOC

Svein Tore Holsether, President and Chief Executive Officer, Yara International ASA

Al Kelly Jr, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Visa Inc.

Kutoane Obed Kutoane, Chief Executive Officer, Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa SOC Ltd

Fred Lam, Chief Executive Officer, Airport Authority (Hong Kong)

Christian Lanng, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and Co-Founder, Tradeshift

Matthew Layton, Global Managing Partner, Clifford Chance LLP

Geoff Martha, Chairman & CEO, Medtronic

John M. Neill, Chairman and Group Chief Executive, Unipart Group of Companies

John Pearson, Chief Executive Officer, DHL Express

Noel Quinn, Group Chief Executive, HSBC Holdings Plc

Marwan J. Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Shurooq

Aba Schubert, Chief Executive Officer, Dorae

Murat Seitnepesov, Managing Director, Integral Petroleum SA

Tarek Sultan Al Essa, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of the Board

Agility, Kuwait

Michael Süss, Chairman, OC Oerlikon Management AG

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Schneider Electric

José Viñals, Group Chairman, Standard Chartered Bank

Jeremy Weir, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Trafigura Group Pte Ltd

Stanley Bergman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Henry Schein Inc.

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