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World Business Leaders Push for Freer Trade, Infrastructure Funding Reform

Posted July 21, 2014

The B20 summit of business leaders wrapped up last week in Sydney with the presentation of 20 “mutually reinforcing recommendations” they say could, if enacted, add $3.4 trillion to global gross domestic product and create millions of jobs within five years.

New private sector infrastructure investment was a major focus, with business urging governments to create lists of bankable projects overseen by independent authorities. Free trade, an end to protectionist policies, the elimination of trade barriers, more business-friendly banking regulations and labour market deregulation were also key themes.

“We are asking governments to remove barriers and impediments to growth,” B20 Chairman Richard Goyder said.

Attended by about 300 business leaders, the B20 Summit preceded the G20 trade ministers’ meeting which started on Saturday, also in Sydney. The B20 was set up in 2010 to give policy recommendations on behalf of the international business community to the G20 bloc of advanced and developing countries. Like the World Economic Forum, the B20 comprises leaders and CEOs from the world’s major corporations, as well as major industry group representatives, such as the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), a CEO advisory group to the G20. However, the B20 also includes representatives from international organizations, such as the WTO and OECD.

The business leaders want the G20 to tackle what they say is a $57 trillion shortfall in global infrastructure and are pressing for changes to funding, trade and corruption rules they say would help big projects move ahead. G20 nations were also urged to reform their domestic supply chains to make trade easier, and use imported materials rather than more expensive locally produced inputs as part of an efficiency-boosting “made in the world” approach to manufacturing.

Adopting all their recommendations would enable the G20 to achieve its goal of lifting world economic growth by 2 percent over five years and would create 50 million jobs, they said.

Click here for a series of videos from the three day B20 summit.

Click here to download the B20 Trade Task Force Policy Summary.