Jean-Guy Carrier became Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce on 24 January 2011. He is also Director of Programmes for ICC’s Research Foundation.
Mr. Carrier has initiated and led research-based publishing and public information programmes for various international and national organizations, most recently for the World Trade Organization (WTO), from 1996 to 2008.
As publisher and chief editor he developed the WTO’s extensive publishing and Internet-based public information programmes, focused on research and information about the multilateral trading system. He initiated the WTO Reference Centre programme, a network of computerized WTO information and research centres established in the trade ministries of over 100 developing countries.
Mr. Carrier is the author of six books and has held senior positions with the International Institute for Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria, the Economic Council of Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with global communications consulting firms. His clients as a consulting executive were mainly multinational companies. He has contributed numerous articles for print and electronic media.
Mr. Carrier was born in Canada and has lived and worked in many regions of the world in the course of his international career.
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Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
"….An open mind and an open market and a government which has that sort of openness are essential….You need the legal and regulatory environment that promotes investments because these things cost money….There has to be some sense of fostering innovation…..Being able to enable that and build that into curricula in schools and universities is another important aspect that is necessary….Developing the kinds of applications which have emerged over the years in various languages and also practical applications…."
What is the correlation between the internet/ICTs and economic growth? How does a professionalized ICT workforce play a part?
"….From the lower scale where individuals are able to get information of where to sell their produce today for the best price to creating high-end employment opportunities for bright young people in these countries to be able to stay in these countries, productive and useful and constructive, this has been a very significant revolution and a great deal of it has been fostered and built by IT…."
What is the importance of the role the internet plays in job creation and social development?
"….We have an emerging force of people who used to be cut off from the world economy over the last 20 years (hundreds of millions of people), due in part to the existence of the technological means which helps to enable them to rise out of poverty and be contributors to their national economy and part of the global economy as well…."
What is the power of the multi-stakeholder approach to issues that leads to informed policy decisions?
"….The experience of the last few years or decades working out these regulatory approaches in some multi-stakeholder form (governments, NGOs and different organizations like ours engaged in the processes of discussing and deciding what is the best way to regulate), has been extremely successful. It hasn’t stymied the creativity and the potential of the information technologies, but has permitted a gradual sort of control where one is needed, so our conviction is very much based on practice. We believe that the multi-stakeholder approach to regulating technologies has demonstrated its capacity to do the job properly…."
It’s a controversial area but it sounds like you are more in favor of this open policy?
"….We are not only convinced but we believe that experiences of the last couple of decades demonstrates that the multi-stakeholder approach in fact works, and remains the best way to go about creating rules and regulations to govern IT usage over the internet…."
It’s clear that you want to safeguard an inclusive approach to the management of the internet. How is the free flow of information a bedrock for freedom of expression, cross-border trade and sharing of knowledge?
"….That’s a basic demonstration that sharing information, technology and knowledge is conducive to improving the standard of living of people around the world….We think that the only way to do it intelligently in a way that safeguards the strength of internet technology is an approach that brings in as many points of view as possible, that involves a public and transparent debate about what we want to do with these technologies, where we want them to go and that leads to some consensus, direction, rules and regulations…."
Earlier you talked about cybercrime and the increasing risk of cybercrime and what that means. Do you perhaps see a code of ethics applied to the professional ICT workforce as a means of helping to limit some of those abuses that could occur?
"….I think it’s inevitable. We are talking about a virtual world, but nonetheless it’s a human-created world….I think people in the industry are beginning very seriously to understand that even as service providers what they have is not just a business. There is a strong social component to what they are doing in terms of an activity, and what they are enabling people to do in terms of exchanging information and there is a real wish for the development of some rules…."
What is the mandate behind the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)?
"….The mandate behind the ICC, which was created in 1919, has been based on the principle that open markets and the trade and investments between countries is one of the best ways to foster peace and prosperity in the world…."
What is your mandate as Secretary General of the ICC for this year and for the future?
"….To work with business people around the world who are very much at the heart of development in this field to ensure that there is an open and fair development of technologies. There is some concern for improving competitiveness and inclusiveness in various markets…."
What are the opportunities for national economies?
"….There are still a tremendous number of economies that are just emerging and all of us are working with national governments to bring more and more countries and therefore more national communities into the fold of the world community. This is an ongoing struggle…."
What policies need to be implemented to foster innovation which is closely tied in with ICT?
"….If you want to have investments in IT as much as in any other area, there has to be an ambiance, a spirit of confidence that that investment is going to develop some returns and build some good results for the population involved, but also a good return for the investors. If you don’t have that you simply don’t get the investment…."
What are your views on micro-financing?
"….You can talk about access to financing, but it is easier to get access to financing in many parts of the world than it is access to the permission (the bureaucratic, official governmental permission) to say you can now start a business. That is the real problem, that the technology has developed faster than the human society’s (from government capacities) to absorb it and to adapt to it. There is still a lot of that kind of red tape and bureaucracy that gets in the way and stands between people who need investment and the investors who are quite happy to provide it in small amounts or big amounts…."
Describe some areas of controversy in the areas that you work.
"….You’ve got this rise and spread of prosperity, but it is badly distributed so it is creating social tension and creating the kind of complexities that are going to rebound on all of us in a very negative way….The other controversy we have is that with all of this commercial activity around the world, you’ve had people straying from basic human principles about poverty and transparency and doing business in an honest way. This can involve high scale finance and all kinds of things and we think that’s a problem as well…."
From a global perspective, can you summarize the greatest challenge facing business today and how this can be overcome?
"….We are finding in a world that is increasing linked and complex, the moral questions (the question of having some morals and principles), being civilized in your behavior has come back on the table as an important issue…."
Jean-Guy, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.
Music by Sunny Smith Productions and Shaun O’Leary