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Business chiefs tell G20 to roll back protectionism

SEOUL, Nov 11 – Global business chiefs urged G20 leaders to roll back protectionism and push for world free trade when they start a two-day summit later Thursday.

The heads of some 120 of the world’s leading companies met for their own summit in Seoul, to offer advice to the political leaders on ways to put the economic recovery on a firm footing.

"As representatives of enterprises with combined total sales of over four trillion dollars, headquartered in 34 countries, we are committed to playing our part to ensure that the business sector helps lead the world to a global economic recovery," they said in a joint closing statement.

The business chiefs urged leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and developing economies to push to complete next year the Doha Development Round of talks aimed at freeing up world trade.

Leaders should "roll back protectionism at least to where it was at the start of the global financial crisis and resist protectionism and trade-restrictive measures going forward".

Small and medium-sized firms worldwide, despite their major contribution to the economy, face "a multitude of impediments to growth", the business chiefs said.

They called for changes in the legal, regulatory and financial framework to favour small firms, and incentives for the financial sector to lend to smaller companies.

The business leaders said stimulus measures had helped stabilise a global economy marked by excess supply but long-term growth would come from the private sector.

Exit strategies should focus on cutting state spending, and governments should avoid tax increases unless these prove unavoidable to forestall an acute fiscal crisis.

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The business chiefs said "momentous change" is needed in energy policies, to be fostered by public-private partnerships.

G20 governments should pursue market-based carbon pricing, and strengthen public-private partnerships to promote universal access to energy.

"Public funding must be provided in a way that helps to unlock further private investment in clean energy."

The company chiefs called for the scrapping of fossil-fuel subsidies within the shortest possible time, and not more than five years.

The economic crisis had highlighted the problem of youth unemployment, the business summit said.

They urged public-private academic partnerships to train young people, and government incentives and policies to create jobs.

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