Business & UN

A year in review: ICC’s highlights from 2017

  • 22 December 2017
ICC Year Review 2017

As we reach the end of what has been a landmark year for the world business organization, we’ve selected some of 2017’s most memorable moments.

From the SDG Business Forum to the 80th anniversary of our Marketing Code, take a look and see what you may have missed.

1. Becoming a UN Observer

As the previous year closed with the milestone announcement that ICC was granted Observer Status at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, our UN team hit the ground running in 2017. In April, ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the first time, with ICC committing to use its newly granted status to “deploy fully the resources, expertise and knowledge of world business” in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

2. The SDG Business Forum

No event better illustrates ICC’s UN commitment than the SDG Business Forum, where we teamed up with the UN Global Compact to convene 1,500 business leaders and government representatives to discuss and demonstrate how the private sector is contributing to global sustainable development objectives.

The scale of corporate participation in the event was unprecedented and discussions led to key takeaways on topics from reporting standards to women’s economic empowerment.

3. A new and improved website

ICC started the New Year with a new look, launching a sleek and fully mobile website with improved navigation, events calendar and document search function. The new site has already helped bring the world business organization closer to our global audience—connecting visitors with the information they need.

4. A digital library

In a further effort to make the most relevant information as accessible as possible, in April we created the ICC Digital Library—an online service that delivers easy 24/7 access to our vast collection of essential reference materials to promote innovative research, learning and more.

We’ve already launched three channels—on dispute resolution, Incoterms® and commercial contracts, and trade finance. Visit the Digital Library here.

5. 10th World Chambers Congress in the land down under

Kicked off in Sydney, Australia with a message from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the ICC World Chambers Federation’s biennial congress brought together over 1,000 chamber and business leaders from 100 countries for discussion on some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Discussions in the first, second and third days focused on rebalancing the global trade debate, the role of chambers in promoting global stability and peace, facilitating migrant integration and determining what makes a good leader, among many other topics.

6. A year of milestones for the Court

In January, ICC’s International Court of Arbitration announced record figures for new cases filed for administration under ICC rules the previous year—a total of 966 new cases involving 3,099 parties from 137 countries. New arbitration rules and a revised Note to Parties and Arbitrators were also adopted, introducing principles on Conduct.

The Court also continued to expand outwards with the establishment of a permanent case management team in Sao Paulo, Brazil.   In early 2018, a new representative office of the Court will officially open in Abu Dhabi,  followed by a new case management office in Singapore later in the year.

7. The Trade Facilitation Agreement enters into force

In what Sunil Bharti Mittal referred to as a “watershed moment for global trade”, the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entered into force in February as it was ratified by two-thirds of WTO member states. The TFA is the first multilateral trade agreement to enter into force in over two decades and could boost global trade flows by over US$1 trillion by cutting red tape at borders.

ICC has long been a leading proponent of the TFA, playing a key role in the 2013 negotiations that led to the agreement and working closely with the WTO and other international organisations to coordinate and support the deal’s implementation.

8. UN recognition of the trade finance gap

Just as crucial in facilitating trade—especially for small and medium-sized enterprises—is enabling companies to secure financing for their trade operations. Following ICC engagement with the UN and national governments during the UN’s annual Financial for Development review in May, the estimated US$1.6 trillion trade financing gap was officially recognised and the UN committed to carry out an official review of the gap and its causes. “This is a complex global problem requiring a concerted global response,” ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said.

9. UN endorsement of ICC forfaiting rules

Also officially recognised by the UN were the ICC Uniform Rules for Forfaiting (URF 800), at the 50th plenary session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on 14 July in Vienna, Austria.

“The URF 800 endorsement is an important milestone for ICC as it reinforces the ICC mandate of removing legal obstacles to international trade by progressively modernizing trade law,” said Pradeep Taneja, Group Head of Trade Technical Services with Bank-ABC, Bahrain and Chair of the ICC-Bahrain Trade Finance Forum.

10. Small Business Champions initiative

While discussions on facilitating trade for small businesses tend to focus on policy fixes, the private sector has the ingenuity and resources to take many positive steps themselves right away. In this spirit, ICC launched the Small Business Champions initiative alongside the WTO with an open call to large companies and business associations to propose projects that can help SMEs participate in international trade.

Companies needed little encouragement. The first accepted proposal came from Google, who developed a video competition for SMEs to show how online tools have helped them trade. In December, a winner of the competition was announced at the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires and Google was awarded the ICC-WTO Small Business Champion title. Proposals have also been accepted from the Macedonian Chambers of Commerce and Mercado Libre, with many more on their way.

11. MC11 Business Forum

Also at MC11, business mobilised to support the WTO and its multilateral rules-based approach to trade through the first-ever official “business forum”. With a high-level roster of speakers including Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Alibaba Group, the forum was a strong signal to world leaders that business supports a progressive WTO agenda that “strengthens the institution itself, while enabling trade to do more to tackle global challenges,” in the words of John Danilovich.

12. The 80th anniversary of the ICC Marketing Code

Over cocktails in sunny Cannes, France last June, ICC celebrated 80 years of our Consolidated Code of Marketing and Advertising Communication Practice (ICC Code). “Over the past 80 years, the ICC Code has played a key role in providing principles that help build trust with consumers—assuring them of advertising that is honest, legal, decent and truthful,” said Stéphane Martin, General Director of the French self-regulatory organization ARPP and Chairman of the European Advertising Standards Alliance.