The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, in cooperation with 13 other business organisations, has written a letter to the WTO on the need for regular dialogue with the business community
The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) agreements and rules, which apply to 164 member countries, provide predictability and transparency for companies involved in international trade. However, the WTO is in urgent need of reform. One particular challenge is the lack of established cooperation and an effective dialogue between the WTO and the business community. This is in spite of the fact that it is companies, not countries, that conduct trade and thus are directly affected by international rules and agreements.
In order to stress the pressing need to establish such a dialogue, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, along with 13 other sister organisations around the world, has written a letter to the WTO’s new Director General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. This letter emphasises the need to ensure a more regular and structured dialogue between the WTO and the business community.
Unlike many other international bodies, there is currently no established and regular dialogue with the business community, despite the fact that it is companies, not member countries, that undertake trade and investment internationally. In our view, this needs to be addressed. In this letter, we highlight examples of how this could be achieved.
– There is a strong need for increased and more structured dialogue between businesses and the WTO. Businesses are the ones who actually trade and use WTO-rules in practice and therefore need to be invited when new rules are negotiated, says Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General, International and EU Affairs at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
Our suggestions include to establish an advisory body to the WTO, organize regular consultations and hearings on specific negotiations where business input can be obtained, and create an online platform where stakeholders can register to enhance dialogue and transparency. We hope that, in writing this letter, we will initiate a process that can improve this situation.
– In this letter, we provide concrete proposals on how the dialogue between businesses and the WTO can be improved. For example through an online platform, through consultations and hearings, but also by establishing an advisory council with business representatives, says Anna Stellinger.