Turkey - B20 - Going Digital.
Over the last decade, digital technologies had become fundamental to competitiveness and growth for companies, at the micro-economy level, and countries at large. Yet digital technologies, along with their benefits, brought with them new economic and regulatory challenges.
While no specific task-force was established to study the digital economy, it had been a cross-cutting theme for all task-forces. Relevant recommendations from all the task-forces were brought together for the G20 leaders' consideration in a separate policy paper.
That had been launched at the first-ever B20 Digital Economy Forum held on the margins of the G20 Trade Ministers meeting. It was emphasised that the B20 community would like to see the digital economy topic developed further during the Chinese presidency at G20's 2016 summit, for the recommendations to be refined by a separate G20-B20 study group.
Another novelty Turkey brought into the B20 was inclusivity. By then, and despite the global economic trends of the rising influence of SMEs and start-ups on the one hand, and emerging market economies on the other, the B20 was dominated by large businesses from North America and Europe. That was despite of the fact that emerging economies (EEs) were home to high-growth companies.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, the number of EE-based companies with over $1b in annual sales had more than tripled to 1,700 in the previous decade. However, they had not been included enough in the B20, due to a lack of awareness or dedicated resources.
On its inclusivity agenda, B20 Turkey took two main actions. In order to ensure geographic inclusivity, B20 Turkey began regional consultation meetings. Given the fact that many EE businesses either were not aware of B20 engagements or lacked resources to participate to B20 task-forces, these meetings were held in major EE hubs and/or on the margins of very important international gatherings.
The B20 covered four continents. Relevant meetings were held in Jeddah, New Delhi, Singapore, St Petersburg, Sao Paolo, and Baku, as well as in Addis Ababa (Financing for Development Conference), Maputo (Annual Meetings of the Islamic Development Bank), and Torino (World Chambers Congress). The B20 thus reached out to 950 business executives, 52 of whom were from non-G20 countries, and most of whom were new to the B20 process.
During regional consultations, organised in the first half of 2015, the B20 tested task-force recommendations while they were under development, and incorporated the feed-back into the task-force process.
B20 Turkey set up a separate task-force - consisting of SMEs and the Entrepreneurship Task-Force - to develop SME-specific recommendations. (According to OECD research, SMEs employ more than two thirds of the private sector work-force in Brazil and 17 select OECD countries. However, their interests are often over-looked by policy-makers, and they are struggling to access global value chains).
The task-force pioneered the World SME Forum, an institution specifically structured to assist in carrying out many of the B20's SME-related recommendations. The World SME Forum, established by the International Chamber of Commerce and TOBB, and acknowledged by the G20 finance ministers, has become one of the most important tangible B20 results. The business community leaders said they would like to see effective follow-through of the recommendations proposed.
Changes towards a better global policy environment to enable the private sector to thrive are not made over-night. B20 Turkey has seen itself as part of a larger and long-lasting effort.
With that in mind, it has created the International Business Advisory Council, which includes leaders of major business umbrella organisations on the global scale, as well as selected CEOs. The IBA Council is planned to maintain a core membership from year to year, and continue its advocacy efforts year-round.
With the B20 hat going from one country to another, the global business community believes in the continuous and dedicated efforts of its leaders to implement recommendations. This must ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth.