How to kick-start growth

G20 Summit: The big picture
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Story highlights

  • Meeting of G20 leaders takes place in Antalya, Turkey, this weekend
  • Muhtar Kent: Governments and business can do more to help young people, women realize potential

Muhtar Kent is chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company and chairman of the International Business Advisory Council to the G20/B20. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)When the leaders of the G20 meet in Antalya, Turkey, this weekend, they will do so against a backdrop of lingering and serious economic, social and geopolitical difficulties. These challenges, more widespread but less acute than those causing the heartbreaking migrant crisis, have placed millions of young people and families around the world at risk and caused them to doubt their own futures.

But as chairman of the new International Business Advisory Council to the G20, I can tell you that the world's business leaders refuse to accept this status quo and the suffering it means for far too many individuals and families. Instead, we're committed to doing more to ensure that more people -- not fewer -- have a chance to thrive and grow in the decades ahead.
Muhtar Kent
Even so, we know business alone cannot create prosperity and opportunity. Instead, we need a new triangle of collaboration between government, business and civil society to kick-start growth. Specifically, through the good work of the five task forces of the B20 over the past 10 months, as well as the coordinated effort of members of the International Business Advisory Council of the B20, we have identified four simple but powerful actions to boost near-term economic activity and job creation.
    First, governments should ratify without delay the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement, or TFA. This action would remove unnecessary delays and red tape in moving goods across borders. According to the Petersen Institute for International Economics, TFA would create up to 21 million job opportunities for entrepreneurs, mostly in developing countries.
    Right now, every member of the World Trade Organization supports this action, though only a handful of the 107 members needed to ratify the agreement have actually done so. All governments that have not approved the agreement should act quickly to do so, giving people the chance to begin reaping the benefits of this change in 2016.
    Second, government and business need collectively to improve access to financing for small and medium enterprises worldwide. While these businesses create the vast majority of new jobs in the United States and other G20 economies, they are often overlooked as governments seek to coordinate international economic policy.
    Right now, many small and medium enterprises face significant hurdles when seeking affordable access to capital based on a lack of reliable credit information and limited tools to mitigate credit risk. Here, all options should be on the table, from supply chain finance and crowdfunding to peer-to-peer finance and private equity.
    Third, we must enhance job opportunities for young people and women -- two groups who suffer disproportionately from unemployment, underemployment and engagement in less secure jobs. This lack of opportunity is dragging down national economies, holding back societal progress and straining the social fabric of many countries.
    We believe government and business can do more to help young people and women realize their potential. Governments can foster an enabling environment that promotes inclusive growth and broader access to education and skills development.
    In addition, the public and private sectors should coordinate more closely to make sure young people have the knowledge and skills to match the current and future needs of employers. This improved alignment could involve apprenticeship and internship strategies, talent matchmaking programs, and improved mechanisms for mobility of workers across employers.
    Earlier this year, through the World Economic Forum's Employment, Skills and Human Capital Steering board, we championed a new set of private-sector solutions to youth unemployment. With our governments, we have a profound opportunity to replicate and scale up the best approaches from the report, which includes 60 successful case studies in talent building, vocational training, entrepreneurial development and more.
    Finally, governments should publish strategies for the development and repair of economic infrastructures including transportation, power, water and communications.
    While spending on such needs totals about $3 trillion annually, not nearly enough is being invested. In fact, by 2030, the world faces a projected shortfall in infrastructure spending of $15 trillion to $20 trillion. While government can lead the effort to close this gap with funding commitments and clear, credible and compelling project road maps, the private sector can assist in financing and completing projects.
    Taken together, these four initiatives could provide a strong foundation for building more robust and sustainable growth over time -- growth that would improve the lives of people everywhere. While each initiative would be beneficial on its own, the combined impact would produce powerful synergies capable of replacing slow growth and sluggish job creation with more rapid growth and increasing employment opportunities.
    The global business community stands ready and eager to help implement this agenda, and we call on the leaders of the G20 and other public officials to join us. Together, we can build a brighter future for the communities, families and individuals that are all counting on us to lead.