Representatives of millions of businesses in the world’s G20 nations have put forward their proposals for economic progress, ahead of the November summit in Australia
The Business 20 (B20), a private sector forum whose members produce policy recommendations for the annual meeting of the Group of 20 leaders, delivered its 2014 statement to G20 on 18 July at the B20 Australia Summit in Sydney.
First convened under Canada’s G20 presidency in 2010, B20 was set up to advocate for more than 6.7m companies worldwide, as a platform for business communities to influence G20 policy. It has made more than 400 recommendations since 2010.
Richard Goyder, the B20 Australia Chair, is chief executive of Wesfarmers, one of Australia’s largest listed companies involved in mining, energy and retail. B20 2014 recommendations aim to provide G20 with a means of reaching its target of lifting collective GDP by 2% above the trajectory implied by current policies over the next five years; a target that is worth more than $2tn and would create tens of millions of jobs.
B20’s overall recommendations to G20 to encourage growth and jobs include freer cross border movement of goods, services, labour and capital; more consistent, effective regulation; and integrity recommendations to ensure corruption does not create perverse incentives, distort markets or stunt growth. On this latter issue, B20 says that corruption is worth more than $3tn a year, or 5% of global GDP – if it was an industry it would be the world’s third largest.
B20’s anti-corruption recommendations urge G20 to incentivise companies’ self-reporting, harmonise anti-corruption laws and align beneficial ownership regulation – creating company ownership transparency that will enable easier tracing of illicit financial flows. B20 asks G20 to endorse the G8 core principles on transparency of ownership and control of companies, and legal arrangements, allowing law enforcement agencies access to company information.
Maggie Murphy, senior co-ordinator of global advocacy and policy at Transparency International, believes B20 has the capacity to drive forward its recommendations into November’s G20 policy. “The Business 20 is no doubt influential,” she says. “That the Australian B20 mainstreamed recommendations related to tackling corruption and enhancing transparency is a welcome step, especially in light of the trust deficit between citizens, governments and business.”
She adds: “It remains too easy for corrupt officials and criminals to hide money behind layers of shell companies and other legal entities.”
B20 also seeks better practice compliance programmes, G20 endorsement of anti-corruption legal frameworks, such as the OECD Anti-bribery convention and the UN Convention Against Corruption, and new, national independent corruption authorities to monitor and enforce the law.
Brook Horowitz, chairman of the B20 Anti-corruption Working Group’s Expert Group and chief executive of IBLF Global, an NGO focused on responsible business, says where legislation encourages anti-corruption self-reporting he has seen companies coming forward.
“The US’s Department of Justice seems to have an advanced system of reduced penalties for companies which cooperate, and many cases are settled out of court,” says Horowitz.
“We hope B20’s recommendations will be implemented by G20 governments at their forthcoming summit.”
In November, the G20 is expected to make policy on trade barriers, which hamper economic growth, through domestic reform and international cooperation. In addition, it may roll back global protectionism and increase “aid for trade” mechanisms.
In the lead-up, select members of B20’s business community will meet with G20 governments and policy makers on how B20’s recommendations might best be included.
The advocacy efforts will run until November’s G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane.