Friday, 1 August 2008

Business Reponse to Doha Trade Talks Collapse

Business representatives of Business Action for Africa issued the following statement on this week's collapse of the Doha Trade Talks:

Business Action for Africa, an international network of over 200 businesses, business organisations and development partners, calls on global leaders, in business and in government alike, to respond to the collapse of world trade talks this week by urgently looking for pragmatic ways forward to reduce barriers to trade and to stimulate global growth and development.

As businesses operating across Africa, we know that Africa will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals to halve world poverty by 2015 if it is not allowed to increase its trade with the rest of the world. Global leaders and the WTO must act urgently to show that there is still a multilateral way forward which can deliver results quickly for the whole world economy and especially Africa.

As we know, huge progress was made in the last six years, and in the last six days of the talks. So, rather than give up all this progress for two years or more, let us implement as much as possible as soon as possible:

1. Implement the 2005 Hong Kong agreement, by developed countries and larger developing countries in a position to do so, to provide completely free market access for all products from the world’s 50 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), of which 32 are in Africa.

2. Richer countries should honour their commitment to do this by 2008 and not enforce their right to wait for the rest of the Doha agreement. This should include the commitment to simplify rules of origin to make trade easier. Developed countries should apply this to 100 per cent of exports from LDCs and waive the 3 per cent exemption negotiated in 2005, which cuts the benefits of this agreement to LDCs from $7bn a year to $1bn a year.

3. Complete the negotiations on Trade Facilitation, which is within reach. This would make all trade easier, benefiting all countries, including at the intra-regional level, and, unusually, comes with guaranteed assistance for developing countries from developed ones. The OECD estimates that by reducing export time by 4.5 days for Sub-Saharan Africa could increase exports to OECD countries by 10 per cent. Trade facilitation, alongside investment climate reform, is a key way to stimulate business investment – a key driver of growth and poverty reduction.

4. The WTO should continue through the agreements achieved so far in a ‘progressive multilateral undertaking’ to reduce trade barriers, where possible, in agriculture, manufactured goods, services and rules.

As the global economy starts to falter and progress towards the MDGs is under threat, now is not the time to take a break. It is time for hard work and hard decisions.

Joint statement issued by the following organisations, in their capacity as board members of Business Action for Africa:

De Beers Group

International Business Leaders Forum

SABMiller plc

Unilever plc

What gets measured gets done - WBCSD launches Measuring Impact Framework

In the spring of 2006, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) embarked on a two-year journey to develop a framework to assess the contribution of business to the economic and broader development goals in the societies where business operates.

This grew out of a request by WBCSD member companies to develop a measurement framework that could underpin the license to operate, improve the quality of stakeholder engagement, help manage risks more effectively and identify ways to enhance the business contribution to society. Companies like Unilever, Vodafone and Anglo American, who had recently completed their own measurement tools or studies, were eager to explore common threads across sectors and build a common approach to measurement that would enhance the discussions on business impacts and role in society.

The resulting Measuring Impact Framework is designed to help companies understand their contribution to society and use this understanding to inform their operational and long-term investment decisions and have better-informed conversations with stakeholders.

The Framework includes 3 components: (1) the business case for measuring impacts entitled “Beyond the bottom line”, highlighting the experience of several WBCSD member companies; (2) a four-step methodology to identify, measure, assess, and manage impacts; (3) an Excel-based user guide that helps companies carry out an assessment.

Key features of the Framework:
  • Built by business for business – reflects the collaborative work of over 25 multinational companies over a 2-year period;

  • Grounded in what business does – based around activities and processes that companies do every day;

  • Moves beyond compliance – attempts to answer questions about what business contributes beyond traditional reporting;

  • Encourages stakeholder engagement – supports open dialogue with stakeholders to create a shared understanding of business impacts and societal needs, and to explore what business can and cannot do to address these needs;

  • Flexible - designed for any business and/or industry at any stage in its business cycle, operating anywhere in the world

  • Complements existing tools – makes use of what is already out there (for example, the Global Reporting Initiative and International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards);

  • Externally reviewed – reviewed by more than 15 stakeholders, ranging from non-governmental organizations to academia and government, including Oxfam, World Resources Institute, International Finance Corporation and Harvard University. The Framework is co-branded by the IFC who is currently deploying it with one of their private sector clients.

To access the Measuring Impact Framework (including the business case brief, methodology and user guide):

The WBCSD and Business Action for Africa are currently exploring opportunities with their respective member companies to apply the Framework in Africa

For more information about the Framework, please contact: Jessica Davis