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CBI - 'Leave protectionist politics at the door'

The CBI Director-General, Tony Danker, will kick off the B7 Summit with a call for greater international collaboration on the biggest issues we all face across the world.

He will say Covid-19 has ‘ripped up the old economic rulebook’ and as we move from crisis to recovery, the UK can act as ‘global broker’ to form international consensus in the year where the UK hosts the G7 in Cornwall and COP26 in Glasgow.  

This week’s summit will focus on areas from net zero and global trade to tackling the global pandemic and making the most of the digital revolution. 

The B7 Summit brings together the leading business organisations of the G7 nations, with India, Australia, South Africa and South Korea also represented. The CBI – in partnership with Deloitte – is hosting the event, with a global CEO Summit to start things off, before the formal leaders meeting takes place on 11 and 12 May. 

In his speech, Tony Danker will say: 

“Every B7 is a moment for global business leaders across the world to meet at a pivotal moment in the political calendar – just ahead of the G7. Less than five weeks from now, seven of the world’s leading economies will come together – to build consensus, and spark action.  

“But this B7 is unlike most that have come before, likewise the G7 in June. And then at the end of the year, COP26 in Glasgow becomes a key moment in the history of our planet. 

“It’s clear that Covid-19 has forced us to rip up the old economic rulebook. With the hit to the global economy three times more severe than the 2008 financial crisis. 

“And as we begin to shift, from crisis to recovery, business now has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape our economic response to this pandemic. To ignite growth. And to broker action, on the world stage as a vocal champion of strong partnerships, and close collaboration to improve lives.  

“Seven countries, seven economies, aligning on how the world builds back better. But let’s not wait for the others to move. This only works if as nations, and economies, we take big leaps in parallel. The UK can and must lead the way.” 

On a turning point for international action, Tony will say: 

“I believe we as international business leaders have both an obligation, and an opportunity, to come together and forge a better decade. 

“We’re at a real turning point. For the past 40 years or more globalisation has shaped the way we work internationally.  

“We’ve seen the movement of people, goods, and ideas across borders like never before in history. And even in times of crisis – after 2008 we saw a remarkable level of international coordination. 

“But in recent years, that’s changed. Brexit was the biggest shake-up in British politics for a generation. The rise of China has shifted geopolitical fault lines. And lately, protectionism has taken hold.   

“Data shows that, in 2017 more than 50% of exports from G20 countries were subject to restrictive trade measures. Everything from import tariffs to export bans. Up 30% in 12 years.  

“Together, I worry these shifts mark a retreat from internationalism at the very moment we need it most.  

“But I am really hopeful that next month, in Cornwall, global political leaders will leave protectionism at the door and find a renewed commitment to joint endeavour. The challenges we face – Covid, recovery, climate change – need leaders to lean in, not stand off. To collaborate around common goals and to make real commitments to work in concert. 

“And I really believe that we as business, can role model that spirit and action. So this week, it’s up to us, as businesses to do just that. That begins today.  

“Businesses are uniquely placed to combat growing protectionist instincts. Able to solve problems quickly, across borders in a way that states can’t or won’t. The vaccine rollout is a great example. It has shown the real potential for business to find solutions, even where trade barriers exist and companies we all know – Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and others have worked with governments to make those solutions a reality. Only possible through cooperation, internationally.   

“With governments and scientists sharing data - and research findings freely around the world. “True collaboration between all parts of society. And a global supply chain, where it matters most. Helping tackle one of the biggest crises we’ve ever faced.”  

On what the B7 Summit can achieve, Tony will say: 

“It’s our hope that, over the next few days we can do four big things.  

“First, is promoting global trade after a year of supply chain disruption, and rising protectionism. Particularly looking at ways to revitalise the World Trade Organisation. 

“Second, we want to spark a race to the top on net-zero. We know the climate crisis won’t be solved by any one nation alone.  And we need to see a seismic shift. With G7 countries coming together, securing commitments and discussing ideas. 

“The truth about Net Zero is that without business action it will remain elusive. It will be businesses that innovate new energy solutions, new green industries and clusters. And it will be businesses who work out how to transition all parts of our economy and society to a decarbonised world. If our 7 countries – if our 7 business communities don’t lead that endeavour, then who will?  

“Third, we want to look at making trade more digital. Today – of course – even simple things like sending an email or booking a hotel abroad now rely on the flow of data across borders.  “And we’ve seen the importance of digital trade more than ever during the covid crisis. When sharing research findings – like genome data – between countries, quickly has helped millions of people get vaccinated at record speed. So today, and at the G7 next month, we hope to build on this success. 

“Finally – of course – we hope to strengthen our international resilience to global health emergencies.  Looking at what the barriers and major risks might be. And not only where government can help but how, as firms, we can step up and lead.” 

On business being ready to serve, especially on the global public health crisis, Tony will say: 

“Right now, economies across the world are in crisis. Covid-19 continues to devastate lives. “While millions have been vaccinated – in a triumph of science, logistics, and business and government in partnership - other countries fight, day-to-day, to tackle the virus. 

“Even now, in India our thoughts and solidarity are with those facing ongoing outbreaks. And we’re learning that success in one part of the world is futile, without common efforts everywhere.    

“This crisis demands an entirely new level of international dynamism and collaboration. To deploy medicines, treatments, vaccines, and expertise where they’re needed most.  

“And as businesses, we stand ready to serve. Helping, in any way we can, with ongoing relief efforts. At the CBI, we’ve been coordinating with UK firms to procure critical resources and supplies. From oxygen cylinders and ventilators – to PPE, antiviral drugs, and testing.  

“And I firmly believe that business has a vital role to play - as both an agent, and an advocate of close international cooperation.”


Original article link: https://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/articles/leave-protectionist-politics-at-the-door/

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