Kuala Lumpur Ladies and Gentlemen It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to our dinner celebrating the 90th anniversary of the International Chamber of Commerce. Let me begin by saying a few words about our anniversary celebrations.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to our dinner celebrating the 90th anniversary of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Let me begin by saying a few words about our anniversary celebrations. Our 90th year celebrations began in Geneva in February where we marked the occasion with the launch of the ICC Research Foundation. The purpose of this Foundation is to commission research relating to trade and investment that will complement the work of the various ICC Commissions with a view to further strengthen the intellectual leadership of ICC. Also in February, we co-hosted a Business Forum with the Evian Group at IMD in Lausanne. In March we celebrated in Paris with the ICC Secretariat and honoured our former Chairmen at a dinner reception hosted by the French Finance Minister. In October we will be celebrating with a reception in New York where an event at the United Nations is being planned. Also in October, we will co-host with Harvard Business School a Business Forum for CEOs that looks at the future of market capitalism and world trade.
The festivities will conclude in New Delhi with a Regional CEO Forum where the results of the research commissioned by the ICC Research Foundation will be presented. The presentations will include the work initiated at the forums at IMD in February and at Harvard Business School in October. In addition we will be presenting the outcome of a workshop on Trade and Employment which will be held at the end of August in Geneva and organised jointly by the World Trade Organization and the International Labour Organization.
Tonight’s dinner is a mid-point in our year-long celebrations and it is very special for me because it is a gathering of our family – the ICC global family. We have with us members of the Executive Board, the World Council, and the World Chambers Federation – who come to join us from all parts of the world. And we of course have representatives of the Secretariat in Paris and the ICC International Court of Arbitration. To this global family I am delighted to welcome the new ICC Secretary General, Jean Rozwadowski.
Please join me in giving Jean a warm welcome. Jean brings to us his outstanding experience as a former CEO of a multinational business who has worked and lived in the major continents of the world. In my view, ICC is at an inflection point and ready for change, and Jean is the right person to lead the organisation at this juncture. He has the full support of the Chairmanship and the Board and I ask each of you to give him your support and co-operation. Working together we can build ICC to become an even stronger world business organisation. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Guy Sebban, our Secretary General, who is stepping down at the end of this month. Guy is unable to be with us in KL in person, but he’s with us in spirit. He has been behind much of the organisation of these events. During his four years as Secretary General he has made many significant contributions to the organisation and our network. Importantly, he has created a firm foundation which Jean can build on as we move foward.
Ladies and Gentlemen
When ICC was founded in 1919, the First World War had just ended. Our founders were businessmen who called themselves the “merchants of peace”. They believed, as we do, that business and world trade offer a path to world peace and prosperity. The vision of our founders, to promote peace and prosperity through world trade, has proved prescient. In particular, the last 20 years of the global market economy have witnessed phenomenal growth among many developing economies and unprecedented reductions in poverty. We must continue on this path. We have to assume a clear leadership role, especially in this time of global crisis. We must continue to fight against protectionism and economic nationalism and to encourage the further strengthening of a rules-based multilateral system. And we are in a unique position to do so. We are the world business organization with representations in over 130 countries. We have an unparalleled network and access to world leaders, and increasingly we have the intellectual leadership t make our voice heard. Since the beginning of the global financial crisis we have played an active role in providing input to the deliberations of the G20 summits, especially in the areas of world trade and availability of trade credit. We ran a global PR and communication campaign linked to the London G20 Summit in April in response to a specific request from the UK Prime Minister for ICC to provide visible global business support to the free trade agenda. I am also pleased to say that the ICC Chairmanship will be meeting with and making our representation to the Italian Prime Minister who will be hosting the G8 meeting in July. While we should be justly proud of our accomplishments over the past nine decades, I see ICC’s 90th anniversary not only as an occasion to re-affirm our roots and our founders’ vision, but also as a time of renewal so that we are well equipped to celebrate our first century in just 10 years time. Like all organizations who seek to survive and prosper, we must question and be prepare to change. This is exactly what we are doing. I will conclude by saying this: When we gather for that 100th anniversary celebration, I want us to look back on this crucial moment with great pride because we have risen to the challenges we faced.
Allow me now to introduce three 15-second videos that began airing on CNN International yesterday. The videos – featuring key ICC messages, such as the importance of trade, sensible regulations and international cooperation in the face of the global recession – were produced by CNN International, USCIB and the ICC Communications Department in Paris. Finally ladies and gentlemen, we have received a special recorded message on the occasion of our 90th anniversary from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The organization he represents and ICC have worked closely together for more than six decades, and we will of course continue to do so in the future.
Thank you very much and I wish you all a most enjoyable evening.