The world’s business leaders must actively work to communicate the enormous benefits of international trade to rebalance the current public debate on globalisation, Corrs Chambers Westgarth Partner and CEO John W.H. Denton AO has told the tenth World Chambers Congress in Sydney today (19 September 2017).

Mr Denton made the remarks during his keynote address at the Congress Opening Ceremony, to an audience of prominent business leaders from around the world, in his capacity as First Vice Chair, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) - co-host of the event with Sydney Business Chamber, a division of NSW Business Chamber.

“At the heart of the current debate around globalisation is a growing hostility to open trade,” Mr Denton told the audience. “Trade is seen as an enemy, not a friend.”

“But this is simply not right. Trade helps lift millions out of poverty, promotes economic growth and job creation, and drives technical progress to unprecedented levels. It makes our lives better.”

Trade improves lives, Mr Denton said, however it improves lives on the “aggregate” but “people live their lives individually”.

“Talk of the benefits of trade is of little comfort to someone who has lost their job.”

Mr Denton believes business and chambers leaders are well positioned to take a stand and communicate the real-life success stories behind global trade, in a way that means something to the person on the street.

“Those of us who see the benefits of open markets in our daily work must reconnect with those who, understandably, believe globalisation has failed them.

“It’s clear the response to the challenges of global change will define the global and political and economic landscape for a generation to come,” he told the audience. “We must be ready to meet these challenges and lead the debate.”

The World Chambers Congress, from 19-21 September, is the premier international event for prominent business leaders, chambers and government from more than 100 countries to gather and discuss the most pressing issues for business and broader communities, while also facilitating the exchange of ideas and world-best practices for chamber and business activities.

The congress is held every two years at a different location around the world and this year’s Sydney event is jointly organised by the ICC and the Sydney Business Chamber, a division of NSW Business Chamber.

Mr Denton is Partner and CEO of Australia’s leading independent law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth In June 2016, he was named as the First Vice-Chairman of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The appointment is the first time that an Australian has held such a position.

Mr Denton is Co-Chair of the B20 ‘Financing Growth and Infrastructure’ Taskforce; Chair of the BCA’s Global Engagement Task Force; member of the BCA’s Business Reputation Workgroup; board member of Asialink; member of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity; Chairman (emeritus) of the Experts Group on Trade and Investment in Indonesia and a founding member of the Australia China CEO Roundtable meetings.

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