Business leaders from the world’s biggest economies are in Sydney for the B20 to prepare their economic recovery wish-list for governments.
World business leaders say they have a plan for global jobs growth but governments must commit to cutting regulations and knocking down trade barriers.
Four hundred global business leaders have gathered for the B20 summit in Sydney to finalise their recommendations to governments, highlighting new infrastructure and removing restrictions on trade, labour and finance as critical to boosting the world’s economies.
B20 chairman and Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder described the B20 as “the most significant gathering of business leaders in Australia ever”.
The forum was focused on ways to create employment, he said, which was a global issue in the wake of the global financial crisis.
“When people say to me, how does the everyday person in the street understand the importance of the G20 and the B20, then pretty simply it’s about jobs,” Mr Goyder said at a briefing.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a parent of children, for example in Spain where there’s 50 per cent youth unemployment.
“That’s why this is important: economic growth solves a lot of issues.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and business leaders including News Corporation executive chairman Rupert Murdoch are among those who will address the forum on Thursday and Friday.
The B20 has just four priority areas – infrastructure, financing growth, human capital and trade – as part of pared-down agenda aimed at delivering real results at the G20 global leaders summit, to be held in Brisbane in November with Australia as president.
GE Mining chief executive Steve Sargent, chairman of the B20 Human Capital Taskforce, said free movement across borders of capital and labour would be an important factor in global growth.
“We’re seeing larger mismatches of labour supply and labour demand, requiring the ability of skills and labour to move freely across borders,” Mr Sargent said.
He said that did not have to mean cheaper labour, because demand for skills would drive wages and wage parity would be achieved in many jobs between China, India, Western Europe and the United States within a decade.
Telstra boss David Thodey, who is chairing the B20 infrastructure taskforce, said 100 million jobs could be created worldwide if the gap between unfunded infrastructure projects and private sector funding could be bridged.
BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie, who heads the B20 trade taskforce, said trade liberalisation – cutting red tape, eliminating protectionism and making supply chains more efficient – could generate additional $3.5 billion in GDP growth and 50 million new jobs in the G20 countries alone.
“Trade policy and trade agreements have just not kept pace with the way that we think trade will manifest itself in the 21st century,” he said.
The B20 summit will announce its final recommendations on Friday and Mr Goyder called on the G20 government leaders to achieve concrete results
Mr Goyder said the December, 2013 World Trade Organisation Bali agreement on trade liberalisation had been a major advance.
“But as I understand it not one of the countries signed up to that has yet passed the enabling legislation and since Bali, or since last year’s G20 when there was a standstill agreement agreed by the G20 leaders, there’s been something like 550 measures put in place by G20 countries that actually have created more barriers to trade,” he said.
“I’m convinced the G20 has a very, very valid role.
“But there’s an expectation, a wide expectation that the G20 has to achieve something under Australia’s presidency.”
B20 PLAN FOR GROWTH
* Infrastructure: funding new projects could create 100m jobs
* Trade: Outdated tariffs and barriers must be removed
* Finance: Banks say post-GFC regulations shouldn’t impede business
* Labour: Free movement across borders will drive economies