|Author (Person)||Abbott, Dennis, Carstens, Karen|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.10, No.3, 29.1.04|
By Karen Carstens & Dennis Abbott
THE Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) is back. Leaders of the European-American business forum have pledged to make a bigger impact on economic policy planning following the 2004 elections on both sides of the Atlantic.
Launched in 1995 and designed to nip transatlantic trade wars in the bud, the TABD came to a near standstill last year. Although it seemed like a good idea at first, it soon got mired in the minutiae of hammering out difficult-to-agree technical details, and was overshadowed by stalled global trade talks and corporate meltdowns.
But business leaders and policymakers pledged to relaunch it at the June 2003 EU-US summit in Washington, with a more pared-down focus built around a core group of CEOs.
In keeping with the TABD tradition of having one business leader from each side of the Atlantic in charge, the two men now at the helm are Douglas N. Daft, chairman and chief executive of Coca-Cola, and Niall FitzGerald, co-chairman and CEO of Dutch-Anglo food and soap giant Unilever.
Both were on hand at this month's annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to put the TABD back on the global policymaking map. They held a meeting on the margins of the summit with CEOs from leading companies such as BASF, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Renault and Visa EU.
"The renewal of the TABD is critical not only for jobs and competitiveness but also to limit any spillover from the current US-European diplomatic tensions into the economic sphere," said FitzGerald.
"It is not the role of the business community to heal this rift, but we do believe that a renewed, strategic vision for TABD will provide a positive agenda toward which our governments can apply their collective energies and creativity."
The TABD, he added, "hopes to map out the benefits of creating a barrier-free transatlantic market that will bring new jobs and prosperity to people on both continents".
Governments must reach three objectives to achieve this, he suggested.
Firstly, they "must implement policies that promote innovation, growth and trade liberalization".
Secondly, "companies and governments must work together to ensure that businesses and markets work to the highest standards of governance, transparency and accountability".
Thirdly, they must also "ensure open and secure networks that will minimize the current obstacles to the free flow of goods, services and capital across the Atlantic, while at the same time accounting for the security of our countries and citizens".
The CEOs agreed the TABD would be guided by an 'executive board' working in coordination with other business organizations, to focus their efforts on developing practical recommendations to governments in seven key areas.
They are: the World Trade Organization Doha development round; intellectual property protection; capital markets, notably staving off the formation of two segregated capital markets; regulatory convergence; corporate governance; international accounting standards and maximizing open trade and security.
Fitzgerald and Daft received backing at Davos from Erkki Liikanen, the enterprise commissioner, and Donald L. Evans, the US secretary of commerce. Liikanen said: "It's important that business defines the agenda and how to boost the economic relationship.
"We [the Commission] must be open to consultation when we regulate - business must not be surprised."
Evans stressed that, although EU-US rifts often make the headlines, "95% of trade is trouble free".
Leaders of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, a European-US business forum, have agreed to make a bigger impact on economic policy following the 2004 elections on both sides of the Atlantic.
|Countries / Regions||United States|