Senior Vice President, Global Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
April 20, 2023
On April 19-20, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led the U.S. delegation to the annual B7 Summit, which took place this year in Tokyo. Created as a private-sector analogue to the G7, the U.S. Chamber initiated the B7 platform to ensure a united business voice amid concerns that advanced economies were facing the prospect of diminishing growth and increasing market fragmentation.
This week’s B7 Summit brought together business leaders from the United States, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Japan to deliver to the G7 presidency clear, consistent messages on how G7 priorities should align with global business interests and capabilities. This was the culmination of months of close policy coordination to address the fallout from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
And the message was received. In fact, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with the group and committed to use our input in preparing the G7 Summit in under a month.
A United Business Message: At the B7, the business community agreed on the most important efforts to mitigate immediate and long-term challenges. We called on our governments to remove barriers to international trade and investment in an effort that may eventually take the form of a “G7 Trade Club” open to nations committed to high standards of free trade. Such a grouping would work to overcome protectionist pressures and combat economic coercion directed against its members and allies, as envisaged by the G7 Foreign Ministers.
We pressed for increased collaboration to address climate change without erecting new trade barriers. In their April 16 Communique, the G7 Ministers of Energy, Climate, and Environment acknowledged their responsibility to help industry and high-integrity markets achieve the goals of the Paris Accord and COP27-28 commitments.
While we welcome this recognition, the B7 partners share the view that technology is ultimately our best answer to the twin challenges of energy transition, namely, overcoming energy insecurity in the short term as well as the long-term impact of climate change.
“All of the Above” for Energy: We urged governments to be pragmatic in communicating to their electorates their support for natural gas, nuclear energy, and a range of emerging renewable energy technologies. Dramatic shifts in energy supply require businesses to make long-term investments across complex, innovative value chains, starting with the upskilling of the workforce and ensuring consumers have reliable energy supplies.
None of the plans will scale up without deep capital markets to finance them over decades to come. International cooperation is vital to bring the costs of the energy transition within reach and assure tangible benefits for all G7 countries and beyond. Japan aptly calls such alignment of public and private forces “a problem-solving society.”
The Digital Revolution: We spoke with a united voice about the promise of data-based industrial transformation as a pillar to building a problem-solving society. Digital transformation, in both industrialized and developing countries, requires multilateral cooperation on cybersecurity, a common approach to the ethical use and regulation of artificial intelligence, and cross-border data flows with privacy protection.
As the G7 Chair, Japan proposed to institutionalize “data free flow with trust.” For our part, the B7 agreed that the private sector should engage with governments to make it a viable proposal.
Earlier this month, the IMF predicted in World Economic Outlook: A Rocky Recovery (April 2023) a period of slower and precarious growth, including in the most advanced economies. However, the business community does not see this outcome as predestined. Business is united in its optimism that it can deliver to our societies the wealth they need to address the challenges on the horizon.
About the authors
Gary Litman, senior vice president of Global Initiatives at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is responsible for the Chamber’s policy advocacy for the economic reform agenda of the G20, G7, and international institutions. He leads the Chamber’s participation in a range of global business coalitions and related business summits focused on sustainable economic policies.