Business to lobby G20 on trade

Business leaders will press for further reform of global trade at OECD forum.

Business leaders will meet with Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb at next week’s OECD forum in Paris to make the case for further reform of global trade, a reform that could boost the world economy by trillions of dollars.

The Australian can reveal that Mr Robb will attend a meeting of the B20 trade taskforce — which is chaired by BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie — where he is expected to talk about advancing the trade in services.

Last night, Mr Mackenzie told The Australian that the taskforce was developing “tangible” recommendations for G20 leaders, including rapid implementation of the recent Bali World Trade Organisation agreement.

“This alone could create over 20 million jobs and increase global GDP by nearly $1 trillion,” he said. “Business is anxious for the G20 to lead by example on Bali — the G20 economies account for around 80 per cent of world trade and two-thirds of the world population. The package of recommendations the taskforce is looking at would be equivalent to adding a new Germany to the global economy in terms of GDP and new jobs.’’

It has also been confirmed that B20 Australia “Sherpa”, former Mallesons chief executive Robert Milliner, and Mr Robb will participate in talks involving the OECD and G20 about global value chains in Paris.

According to analysis by the World Economic Forum, and cited by the B20, if every nation improved two key non-tariff barriers halfway towards what’s considered best practice, global GDP could increase by $US2.6 trillion (or 4.7 per cent) and global tradeby $1.6 trillion (14.5 per cent).

Mr Milliner said the taskforce would talk about increasing the emphasis on the trade in services and wider moves to liberalise trade and resist protectionism.

“Supply chains is one element of it,” he said. “We have an interest in promoting further trade in services as well as trade in goods. We have an interest in discussing mechanisms to ensure that the continued development of bilateral preferential trade agreements and regional preferential trade agreements don’t impinge on a further multilateral round.”

The B20 is the forum for business leaders to provide policy recommendations for the yearly G20 meeting, to be held in Brisbane in November. The four taskforces of the B20 — on trade, infrastructure, financing growth and human capital — will convene next week in Paris.

Mr Milliner said that about 100 of 300 B20 members, drawn from the international business community, would work towards finalising recommendations that will go to the July B20 Australia Summit in Sydney.

Ultimately, the B20 recommendations will be handed to the G20 presidency through Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey, who chairs the infrastructure and investment taskforce, and the chief executive of GE Australia and New Zealand, Steve Sargent, will be in Paris, while Mr Mackenzie will participate by phone. Mr Robb said there needed to be a global objective to promote policies that helped businesses effectively participate in global supply chains.

In his role, he said, he had noticed disillusionment over the big spending and heavy regulating response from governments after the global financial crisis. There was renewed fervour to pursue trade and investment as drivers of sustainable growth and job creation, he said.

Mr Milliner singled out non-tariff barriers as of particular ­importance.