Business: Associations, Government-Related
ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) is the voice of world business championing the global economy as a force for economic growth, job creation and prosperity.
Because national economies are now so closely interwoven, government decisions have far stronger international reper-cussions than in the past.
- ICC - the world's only truly global business organization responds by being more assertive in expressing business views.
- ICC activities cover a broad spectrum, from arbitration and dispute resolution to making the case for open trade and the market economy system, business self-regulation, fighting corruption or combating commercial crime.
- ICC has direct access to national governments all over the world through its national committees. The organization's Paris-based international secretariat feeds business views into intergovernmental organizations on issues that directly affect business operations.
Setting rules and standards
- Arbitration under the rules of the ICC International Court of Arbitration is on the increase. Since 1999, the Court has received new cases at a rate of more than 500 a year.
- ICC's Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP 500) are the rules that banks apply to finance billions of dollars worth of world trade every year.
- ICC Incoterms are standard international trade definitions used every day in countless thousands of contracts. ICC model contracts make life easier for small companies that cannot afford big legal departments.
- ICC is a pioneer in business self-regulation of e-commerce. ICC codes on advertising and marketing are frequently reflected in national legislation and the codes of professional associations.
Promoting growth and prosperity
- ICC supports government efforts to make a success of the Doha trade round. ICC provides world business recommendations to the World Trade Organization.
- ICC speaks for world business when governments take up such issues as intellectual property rights, transport policy, trade law or the environment.
- Signed articles by ICC leaders in major newspapers and radio and TV interviews reinforce the ICC stance on trade, investment and other business topics.
- Every year, the ICC Presidency meets with the leader of the G8 host country to provide business input to the summit.
- ICC is the main business partner of the United Nations and its agencies.
Spreading business expertise
- At UN summits on sustainable development, financing for development and the information society, ICC spearheads the business contribution.
- Together with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), ICC helps some of the world's poorest countries to attract foreign direct investment.
- In partnership with UNCTAD, ICC has set up an Investment Advisory Council for the least-developed countries.
- ICC mobilizes business support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development. At ICC World Congresses every two years, business executives tackle the most urgent international economic issues.
- The World Chambers Con-gress, also biennial, provides a global forum for chambers of commerce.
- Regular ICC regional con-ferences focus on the concerns of business in Africa, Asia, the Arab World and Latin America.
Advocate for international business
- ICC speaks for world business whenever governments make decisions that crucially affect corporate strategies and the bottom line.
- ICC's advocacy has never been more relevant to the interests of thousands of member co mpanies and business associations in every part of the world.
- Equally vital is ICC's role in forging internationally agreed rules and standards that companies adopt voluntarily and can be incorporated in binding contracts.
- ICC provides business input to the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and many other intergovernmental bodies, both international and regional.
- For information on how to join ICC and ensure your company exerts influence where it counts, contact ICC Membership Department in Parisby Email or telephone +33 (0)1 49 53 28 49.
History of the International Chamber of Commerce
The ICC's origins
The International Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1919 with an overriding aim that remains unchanged: to serve world business by promoting trade and investment, open markets for goods and services, and the free flow of capital.
Much of ICC's initial impetus came from its first president, Etienne Clémentel, a former French minister of commerce. Under his influence, the organization's international secretariat was established in Paris and he was instrumental in creating the ICC International Court of Arbitration in 1923.
ICC has evolved beyond recognition since those early post-war days when business leaders from the allied nations met for the first time in Atlantic City. The original nucleus, representing the private sectors of Belgium, Britain, France, Italy and the United States, has expanded to become a world business organization with thousands of member companies and associations in around 130 countries. Members include many of the world's most influential companies and represent every major industrial and service sector.
The voice of international business
Traditionally, ICC has acted on behalf of business in making representations to governments and intergovernmental organizations. Three prominent ICC members served on the Dawes Commission which forged the international treaty on war reparations in 1924, seen as a breakthrough in international relations at the time.
A year after the creation of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945, ICC was granted the highest level consultative status with the UN and its specialized agencies. Ever since, it has ensured that the international business view receives due weight within the UN system and before intergovernmental bodies and meetings such as the G8 where decisions affecting the conduct of business are made.
Defender of the multilateral trading system
ICC's reach - and the complexity of its work - have kept pace with the globalization of business and technology. In the 1920s ICC focused on reparations and war debts. A decade later, it struggled vainly through the years of depression to hold back the tide of protectionism and economic nationalism. After war came in 1939, ICC assured continuity by transferring its operations to neutral Sweden.
In the post-war years, ICC remained a diligent defender of the open multilateral trading system. As membership grew to include more and more countries of the developing world, the organization stepped up demands for the opening of world markets to the products of developing countries. ICC continues to argue that trade is better than aid.
In the 1980s and the early 1990s, ICC resisted the resurgence of protectionism in new guises such as reciprocal trading arrangements, voluntary export restraints and curbs introduced under the euphemism of "managed trade".
Challenges of the 21st Century
After the disintegration of communism in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, ICC faced fresh challenges as the free market system won wider acceptance than ever before, and countries that had hitherto relied on state intervention switched to privatization and economic liberalization. As the world enters the 21st century, ICC is building a stronger presence in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the emerging economies of eastern and central Europe.
Today, 16 ICC commissions of experts from the private sector cover every specialized field of concern to international business. Subjects range from banking techniques to financial services and taxation, from competition law to intellectual property rights, telecommunications and information technology, from air and maritime transport to international investment regimes and trade policy.
Self-regulation is a common thread running through the work of the commissions. The conviction that business operates most effectively with a minimum of government intervention inspired ICC's voluntary codes. Marketing codes cover sponsoring, advertising practice, sales promotion, marketing and social research, direct sales practice, and marketing on the Internet. Launched in 1991, ICC's Business Charter for Sustainable Development provides 16 principles for good environmental conduct that have been endorsed by more than 2300 companies and business associations.
Practical services to business
ICC keeps in touch with members all over the world through its conferences and biennial congresses - in 2004 the world congress was held in Marrakesh. As a member-driven organization, with national committees in 84 countries, it has adapted its structures to meet the changing needs of business. Many of them are practical services, like the ICC International Court of Arbitration, which is the longest established ICC institution. The Court is the world's leading body for resolving international commercial disputes by arbitration. In 2004 561 Requests for Arbitration were filed with the ICC Court, concerning 1 682 parties from 116 different countries and independent territories.
The first Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits came out in 1933 and the latest version, UCP 500, came into effect in January 1994. These rules are used by banks throughout the world. A supplement to UCP 500, called the eUCP, was added in 2002 to deal with the presentation of all electronic or part electronic documents. In 1936, the first nine Incoterms were published, providing standard definitions of universally employed terms like Ex quay, CIF and FOB, and whenever necessary they are revised. Incoterms 2000 came into force on 1 January 2000.
In 1951 the International Bureau of Chambers of Commerce (IBCC) was created. It quickly became a focal point for cooperation between chambers of commerce in developing and industrial countries, and took on added importance as chambers of commerce of transition economies responded to the stimulus of the market economy. In 2001, on the occasion of the 2nd World Chambers Congress in Korea, IBCC was renamed the World Chambers Federation (WCF), clarifying WCF as the world business organization's department for chamber of commerce affairs. WCF also administers the ATA Carnet system for temporary duty-free imports, a service delivered by chambers of commerce, which started in 1958 and is now operating in over 57 countries.
Another ICC service, the Institute for World Business Law was created in 1979 to study legal issues relating to international business. At the Cannes film festival every year, the Institute holds a conference on audiovisual law.
The fight against commercial crime
In the early 1980s, ICC set up three London-based services to combat commercial crime: the International Maritime Bureau, dealing with all types of maritime crime; the Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau; and the Financial Investigation Bureau. A cybercrime unit was added in 1998. An umbrella organization, ICC Commercial Crime Services, coordinates the activities of the specialized anti-crime services.
All these activities fulfil the pledge made in a key article of the ICC's constitution: "to assure effective and consistent action in the economic and legal fields in order to contribute to the harmonious growth and the freedom of international commerce."