“We delivered, now it is the G20’s turn!” – the rooms at Keidanren at the B20 Summit, which took place in mid-March 2019, were filled with high expectations for the G20 Summit in June in Osaka. On this occasion, representatives from companies and business federations handed this year’s B20 recommendations over to Japanese Prime Minister and G20 Chair Shinzo Abe. The hand-over ceremony was by no means the only highlight of the Summit. Welcome remarks were delivered by Mr. Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister of Japan and by Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, as well as by Mr. Hiroaki Nakanishi, Keidanren chair and chair of the B20 Tokyo Summit.
On 15 March, several thematic panels featured, among others, Mr. John Denton, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. Xiaozhun Yi, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization. During the panel “Trade and Investment for All”, they discussed current concerns of the international business community and, in particular, how to secure a level playing field to ensure equal access to free markets for everyone. The afternoon panel discussion “Digitalization for All: Solving Social Issues through Realizing Society 5.0” featured Mr. Brooks Entwistle, Chief Business Officer of Uber, and Mr. Christian Diemer, Chief Executive Officer of the German company Heitkamp & Thumann. Mr. Diemer, who also acted as head of the German delegation to the B20 Summit, elaborated on opportunities and challenges of the digital transformation, saying “digitalization is an integral part of our daily business – both the positive and the negative sides. The digital transformation of industrial processes enables many new business models as well as efficiency gains along the entire supply chain. However, digitalization does also entail challenges: cybersecurity, a lack of IT-experts and a lack of high-speed digital infrastructure.” The panelists discussed actions required to bring Society 5.0 to reality and described their expectations for the G20 Osaka Summit.
The panels did not only offer the opportunity to convey the key messages of this year’s B20 Communiqué on trade, digitalization, and the environment, as well as integrity, employment and education; they additionally offered invigorating stimulus for further thought-provoking discussions with high-level business experts and political leaders. With the outstanding organization of the event, Keidanren made this year’s B20 Summit a roaring success!
This success is due to the disciplined work of the Japanese B20 Presidency – over only three months, Keidanren expanded on indispensable and actionable recommendations for the G20, with help from mandated business associations from the G20 countries. These recommendations focus on the overall objective of reconciling economic growth and sustainable development; they are subsumed in this year’s B20 Communiqué with the title “Society 5.0 for SDGs”. The Communiqué delineates the significance of digital technologies and urges the G20 to elaborate on a data governance framework, to promote international cooperation in the field of cybersecurity and to realize a WTO plurilateral agreement on electronic commerce. Furthermore, the B20 called for an acceleration of the digital transformation throughout all societies.
In the field of international trade, the B20 calls on the G20 to reform the WTO through improvements to the dispute settlement body and the rule-making and monitoring function. Moreover, international rules should be strengthened to assure a level playing field, to better protect intellectual property, and to improve market access in goods and services.
“Energy and Environment for All” is a third center piece of the Communiqué. The B20 urges the G20 to realize low emissions throughout all societies, achieved through the establishment and implementation of evidence-based and economically sound policies for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and through the intensification of the global discussion on carbon pricing. Additionally, the Communiqué elaborates on recommendations for quality infrastructure, the future of work and health. Its final element is a voluntary action plan for businesses, comprising of self-commitments to respect human rights and to engage in fair and free procurement processes.
B20 Germany welcomes and supports this year’s recommendations. Mr. Stefan Mair, executive board member at the Federation of German Industries, asserted that, in this year’s process, “B20 Japan has clearly articulated the needs and concerns of the global business community. Now all eyes are on the G20 Summit at Osaka and on political leaders to reflect these positions in the G20 Communiqué.” The spotlight will turn now from Tokyo to Osaka, for the meeting of the G20 heads of states and governments in June. B20 has delivered comprehensive recommendations and has contributed to shaping the global agenda. Now it is the G20’s turn to reflect B20’s recommendations, and so concludes the B20 Communiqué: “Ten years after the global financial crisis, there is no time like the present to require international cooperation in which the G20 can play a more important role.”
We thank the Japanese B20 Presidency for their exemplary efforts and for their strong commitment for a consensus-driven B20 process! We would like to congratulate B20 Japan and Keidanren on a sound and very well thought out Communiqué, and on a memorable B20 Summit in Tokyo.
Disclaimer: B20 Germany is a joint project by the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK). Therefore, the individual members of B20 Germany do not espouse all of the above statements if they are not within the realm of their statutory or legal responsibility.
To B20 Japan Communiqué: http://www.b20tokyo.org/documents/pdf/Joint_Recommendations_eng.pdf