Celebrating a century of keeping the peace through supporting international trade, International Chamber of Commerce has a new Finance for Development Hub for tackling modern impediments to financial inclusion and trade facilitation. David Meynell reports
When the world desperately needed to rebuild economies and societies at the end of the First World War, there was no global system of rules to govern trade, investment, finance or commercial relations.
In 1919, entrepreneurs from the areas of industry, finance and trade decided to set up an organisation which was to act in the name of business communities all over the world to address this. These pioneers were engaged by its first President, Étienne Clémentel, who had formerly held various ministerial seats in the French cabinet. And so it was that International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) was born. One hundred years on, it represents more than 45 million companies in more than 100 countries, and is the world’s largest business organisation. Having recognised the influential role that trade can play in fostering peace and prosperity among nations, ICC made it its objective to fill these gaps and was self-styled as the ‘merchants of peace’.
With multilateral trade under strain in the current climate of renewed nationalism, its work has never been more important. In the words of the current Secretary General John WH Denton AO,1 “ICC has a historic role that goes beyond carrying forth the views of the private sector. Its role is to leverage the knowledge and resources of business to advance peace, prosperity and sustainable development through inclusive economic growth.”2 At the 2019 ICC Banking Commission Annual Meeting in Beijing, Denton spoke about the need for ICC to remain “relevant, flexible and accountable” and adhere to a “spirit of modernity” to ensure that the multilateral trading system is “fit for purpose in the 21st century”.
This article highlights how ICC is doing just that, and what this means for participants in the global trade ecosystem.
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