In the G20 business dialogue (Business 20, B20) talks on key topics commenced in October. The first B20 conference is scheduled to mark the beginning of the German G20 presidency on December 1st. In seven taskforces and cross-thematic groups more than 500 leading business representatives develop joint policy proposals for the G20.

The B20 is part of the official G20 engagement process with the civil society and represents the global business community with a single voice. B20 recommendations are not limited to how to generate economic growth. The overall aim of the B20 is to lead the global economy towards a sustainable and future-oriented path. This is done through the consolidation, review, and thorough discussion of its members’ positions. The B20 strives to deliver concrete, actionable recommendations to the G20. In doing so it enables political decision-making based on actual needs and real world solutions.

The B20 process is scheduled to accommodate in-depth discussions on key issues during several meetings. Final policy proposals will be presented to the public at the B20 Summit on May 2nd and 3rd, 2017 in Berlin.

The seven taskforces and cross-thematic groups of the German B20 Presidency will focus on:

                * Energy, Climate and Resource Efficiency

                * Digitalization

                * Financing Growth and Infrastructure

                * Trade and Investment

                * Employment and Education

                * Small and Medium Enterprises

                * Responsible Business Conduct and Anti-Corruption

The German B20 Presidency introduces new focus topics. Dr. Kurt Bock, CEO of BASF SE will chair the B20 taskforce on Energy, Climate and Resource Efficiency. In terms of its importance he notes: “Climate protection is a global task. The business community provides the technology needed to achieve the ambitious emission reduction targets. The B20 will discuss the concepts and political frameworks required.” According to Bock the G20 can play an outstanding role in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change in a way that promotes sustainability, innovation, and prosperity.

Another new topic the B20 will focus on is digitalization. The respective taskforce will be chaired by Klaus Helmrich, member of the executive board of Siemens AG. Helmrich emphasizes the importance of international cooperation for the digital economy: “Digitalization provides the manufacturing sector with opportunities to improve its productivity, flexibility, and quality – from design to service. Already today we can digitally map the entire value chain and with Smart Data we can develop new business models. Cross-border cooperation of business, academic, and institutional stakeholders can contribute to advance this digital transformation. Therefore, I welcome that for the first time a B20 taskforce will focus on digitalization. I feel honored to lead this taskforce with renowned business representatives and I look forward to feed in the experience of Siemens.” Digitalization was first made a G20 key topic at the summit of heads of state and government in Hangzhou in September 2016.

The necessity for joint action on an international level is also seen by Oliver Bäte, CEO of Allianz SE. He will chair the taskforce Financing Growth and Infrastructure. Bäte emphasizes: “Global growth currently experiences stiff headwinds: Apart from demographic changes, high debt, and insufficient investment in infrastructure, it is foremost the slowing pace of globalization that hinders growth.” Aligned and decisive actions of G20 are needed.

The president of BusinessEurope and Chairwoman of the Board of Italian oil company Eni, Emma Marcegaglia, leads the Trade and Investment taskforce. “The G20 has to give the right impetus to prevent and rollback protectionism and make full use of emerging opportunities such as digital trade, which could especially benefit developing countries and SMEs.” The B20, Marcegaglia says, is an important agent in identifying priorities and supporting the implementation of decisions taken.

Dr. Gerhard Braun, vice-president of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) and chair of the B20 taskforce Employment and Education sees a similarly important role for B20 and G20 in setting the right frameworks for labor markets. “The G20 members should focus on flexible and inclusive labor markets. We need to remove labor market barriers, especially in order to allow better access to labor markets for women and young people and to foster the transition from informal to formal employment in emerging economies.”

Small and Medium Enterprises are another B20 focus. The cross-thematic group will be led by Dr. Rudolf Staudigl, CEO of Wacker Chemie AG. Staudigl stresses that in all regions of the world, SMEs are drivers of economic growth, employment and innovation. Regarding G20 actions he says: “Specifically, in my view, free trade is an important lever for giving SMEs better access to global supply chains and access to financing and digitalization.”

Sustainability and the implementation of development objectives will carry weight in all B20 taskforces. They will play a particularly important role in the cross-thematic group on Responsible Business Conduct and Anti-Corruption led by Dr. Klaus Moosmayer. The Anti-Corruption Chair of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) and Chief Compliance Officer at Siemens AG deals with anti-corruption efforts and responsible business conduct on a daily basis. Moosmayer underlines the importance of the G20 and B20: “We will not overcome the plight of corruption if we fight separately. Germany is – together with the USA – a leader in implementing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. This gives Germany a clear mandate to lead the G20 to the next level in the fight against corruption, which must be a joint effort on the part of both the public and private sectors.”

About the G20

The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. Within the G20, 19 leading industrial and emerging economies as well as the European Union coordinate their policies and agree on joint actions and principles. The G20 is increasingly turning into a center pillar of global governance. The G20 members combined hold more than 85 percent of the global economic output, more than 80 percent of global goods and services exports and represent about two thirds of the global population.

About the B20

The B20 is an integral part of the G20 process and represents the global business community. The B20’s task is to support the G20 by making concrete recommendations for actions, consolidating global businesses’ interests, and lending its expertise to the G20. Beyond this engagement the B20 focusses on advocacy and fosters the international dialogue between governments, civil society, and the business community. Like the G20 presidency, the B20 presidency is a perennial process and rotates on a yearly basis. The leading German business associations BDI, DIHK and BDA took over the B20 presidency on September 4th 2016. Chair of the B20 is Dr. Jürgen Heraeus.

Source: B20 Germany

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