Saudi business sector keen to expand global partnerships
Saudi business sector keen to expand global partnerships
“This is all the more essential considering the reputable status of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which plays an effective role in the global economic and business policies,” Sorour told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
He said the formation of the ICCSA’s board of directors, which represents all major business sectors — whether industrial, financial, commercial or service — will ensure wider participation of such sectors in its activities.
The upcoming period will witness a major shift in the work of the ICCSA in the face of the existing economic challenges.
It will thus become an active platform to empower the Saudi business sector join global functions and provide a variety of insights in a manner that will, hopefully, serve the interests of business sectors in particular and the Saudi economy in general, Sorour added.
The vision of the ICCSA is based on the fact that the Saudi business sector is an integral part of the global business sector and the ICC is considered a bridge that links the two entities.
Therefore, he stated, it has become imperative to build bridges with counterparts at the global level aimed at bringing knowledge, best practices and global systems into the Saudi business sector.
The following are excerpts from the interview:
What is the work nature of the ICC and its role in the development of private sector activities of member countries?
The Paris-based ICC is considered the biggest business organization and representative of global states.
Its members are selected from companies that have interests expanding into all activities of the private sector companies.
It retains strong and vital relations at the global level; it has a reputable advisory mission with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and key partner with UN agencies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and, likewise, provides G20 and G8 countries with basic data on the principles of development of the international trade.
The ICC was established in 1919 in the aftermath of a major economic and business recession immediately following the First World War by a small group of business leaders who called themselves as ‘peace traders.’
It was termed the International Business Organization and was the sole entity empowered to speak on behalf of the business community in all parts of the world and geared to serve business sector through the activation of international trade and investment.
Who are members of the ICC?
The ICC has a membership base of more than 100,000 companies, both corporate and individuals, who are specialists or interested in this area representing more than 130 countries. They belong to organizations, associations or committees representing trade, business and economic sectors in all parts of the world. They are called national committees affiliated to the Paris-ICC and work hand in hand to support ICC’s mission and works.
What is the nature of the ICC activities?
The ICC undertakes three major activities: preparing laws and policies governing all global business transactions and commercial arbitration, preparing and drafting rules and laws governing commercial practices being practiced on daily basis through thousands of contracts and financial dealings such as the principles and norms of commercial arbitration, purchasing and delivery (INCOTERMS), united code of practices (UCP 600) and united code of bank guarantees, commercial funding and banking laws.
What committees are working under the umbrella of ICC?
A. There are 16 committees, which are entrusted to lay down ICC policies.
They meet standards and laws worked out by the ICC, which assigns works to committees, each of which is to be specialized in certain trade area and has to have a group of selected international experts.
All ICC policies, rules and standards are prepared by specialized working bodies called ‘policy-making committees.’
Normal procedure requires policy statements first to be adopted by a commission, in consultation with national committees, and then approved by the executive board, before they can be regarded as official and public ICC positions.
Meetings of commissions are normally held twice a year.
The commissions include technology and banking practices, commercial projects in community, commercial law and practices, trade and investment policy, insurance and financial services, arbitration, taxation, e-commerce, customs and trade laws, transport and logistics, biochemistry, competition, environment and energy, intellectual property, marketing and advertising, and anti-corruption.
With an international arbitration court, does ICC have any legal role in commercial disputes arising between countries?
This court was set up in 1923 under the guidance of the ICC and since then has been active in solving global commercial disputes. Saudi Arabia is a member of the Paris-based court and still retains membership and works vigorously for a couple of years.
By the end of the 20th century, commercial arbitration has gained wide and global acceptance in light of huge commercial disputes, which had been settled by the court whose rulings are recognized globally, where more than 120 countries signed the New York Convention in 1958 giving recognition to the court decisions.
What are the objectives of the International Court of Arbitration?
A. The court aims to promote efforts in solving international commercial disputes through the ICC arbitration and other mediation means, study judicial aspects of arbitration on how to settle disputes of commercial nature, benefit from new technologies to settle current commercial disputes, and develop commercial policies, rules and standards on continual basis.
As far as ICC Saudi Arabia is concerned, an arbitration commission was formed with the intent to attract ideas and views on issues related to international arbitration and forms of settling disputes.
The commission is also meant to promote the idea of resort to arbitration as a way to resolve commercial disputes, study judicial dimensions of arbitration and multifaceted forms of settlement of the global commercial nature and take advantage of the current dispute settlement services provided by the ICC in the light of current developments, including those issues related to modern technology.
Does ICC have any link with other commercial chambers?
Here comes the role of the World Chambers Federation (WCF), which functions under the umbrella of the ICC.
The WCF, specialized in commercial chambers worldwide and utilizing global communication networks, provides guidance and help commerce chambers exchange expertise and promote their performance in all financial, administrative and service areas.
The WCF also joins hands with a number of world organizations, such as the World Bank and the UN Development Program and other agencies, to help commerce chambers in the developing countries provide services and boost their role in economic growth of their respective countries.
In this context, how does the WCF plan to realize its objectives?
The WCF pursues to realize a package of objectives, notably encouragement of cooperation between local chambers and other world equivalents, organization of forums and conferences to allow heads of chambers contact with one another and exchange topics of common interests. The WCF also encourages chambers to make them mediators between private and government sectors and help chambers deliver best services to their respective members.
There is a network of global chambers, how does it work and what achievements are attainable?
This network links all chambers around the globe through its website (worldchambers.com) and it is the sole portal, which was designed by commerce chambers.
The website extensively boost exchange of trade information between commerce chambers and member companies through a network of 14,000 chambers listed on the directory of commerce chambers.
The network (portal) helps commerce chambers around the globe to develop their tradition mission on how to boost commercial companies through provision of smart and coherent markets, points of contact with customers and potential suppliers, and development of business opportunities and deals.
The network also joins all commerce chambers in all continents in the global (chamber) network project where there are more than 10,000 participants whose names appear in the directory through which the portal allows them to have direct access to their counterparts around the world.
What advantages do members enjoy from the network (portal)?
Members have so many advantages and benefits, notably enhancement of trade exchange around the world and provision of business data and services to all chambers worldwide.
The ICC provides services to combat commercial crimes, what kind of criminal activities are covered by such services?
The ICC services cover a number of crimes related to commercial and economic activities, including marine piracy where the International Marine Bureau (IMB) was established in 1981 to track movements of ships around the globe and possible ship piracy and take necessary measures to minimize piracy acts.
The IMB issues quarterly reports on marine piracy news.
There are also crimes related to financial and investment fraud where the anti-commercial crime office (ACCO) plays a pivotal role to avoid financial and investments frauds.
The office saved companies and individuals billions of dollars in losses, which they could have sustained from possible fraud acts through providing its members with the newly-discovered criminal methods.
As regards commodity counterfeit crimes, the office of counterfeit commodities (OCC) conducts global investigations on counterfeit items and their distribution networks, gives guidance on commodity counterfeiters and their methods.
The office runs training courses to company employees on how to discover counterfeited commodities.
For the Internet crimes, a special section was created based on the growing complaints raised by companies on their exposure to crimes through their websites. Through the section, intruders (hackers) could be tracked down and sent to courts.
When was ICCSA established, and what are its views and objectives?
The ICCSA was established in 1975 to represent the interests of Saudi economy at the ICC and other international forums. It undertakes its activities under the umbrella of the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC).
The vision of ICCSA is based on the fact that the Saudi business sector is an integral part of the global business sector and the ICC is considered a bridge that links between the two entities.
Therefore, it has become imperative to build bridges with counterparts at the global level aimed to bring knowledge, best practices and global systems into the Saudi business sector.
What goals and objectives the ICCSA pursues in the interest of promoting the private sector?
The International Chamber of Commerce Saudi Arabia (ICCSA) will intensely pursue maximum mobilization and utilization of the business sector in a bid to enhance its global role.
This is all the more essential considering the reputable status of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which plays an effective role in the global economic and business policies.
The formation of the ICCSA’s board of directors, which represents all major business sectors — whether industrial, financial, commercial or service — will ensure wider participation of such sectors in its activities.
The upcoming period will witness a major shift in the work of the ICCSA in the face of the existing economic challenges.
It will thus become an active platform to empower the Saudi business sector join global functions and provide a variety of insights in a manner that will, hopefully, serve the interests of business sectors in particular and the Saudi economy in general.
Do you have overseas participation in a way that could enhance trade exchange and transfer of expertise?
The ICCSA has participated in the world trade agenda (WTA) summit. which brought together key business leaders and decision-makers to lay down priorities of business sector for an active trade policy in the 21st century.
The ICCSA also joined the G20 countries as well as meetings of political and economic groups in Paris and Geneva, ICC and G20 Advisory Group which were convened and timed with Davos Forum 2014.
The ICCSA also participated in the 7th conference of the WCF, Mexico, and the 8th WCF in addition to regular meetings of the permanent members of ICC (twice a year), the international council of the international commerce chambers (twice a year), RCG/MENA (twice a year), WATAC (twice a year).
The ICC Saudi Arabia attends regular meetings of permanent heads of ICC, Regional Consultative Group and the General Council of ICC.
US says conserving oil is no longer an economic imperative
- Fears of oil scarcity no longer driver of US energy policy
- Surging shale production brings energy abundance
WASHINGTON: Conserving oil is no longer an economic imperative for the US, the Trump administration declares in a major new policy statement that threatens to undermine decades of government campaigns for gas-thrifty cars and other conservation programs.
The position was outlined in a memo released last month in support of the administration’s proposal to relax fuel mileage standards. The government released the memo online this month without fanfare.
Growth of natural gas and other alternatives to petroleum has reduced the need for imported oil, which “in turn affects the need of the nation to conserve energy,” the Energy Department said. It also cites the now decade-old fracking revolution that has unlocked US shale oil reserves, giving “the United States more flexibility than in the past to use our oil resources with less concern.”
With the memo, the administration is formally challenging old justifications for conservation — even congressionally prescribed ones, as with the mileage standards. The memo made no mention of climate change. Transportation is the single largest source of climate-changing emissions.
President Donald Trump has questioned the existence of climate change, embraced the notion of “energy dominance” as a national goal, and called for easing what he calls burdensome regulation of oil, gas and coal, including repealing the Obama Clean Power Plan.
Despite the increased oil supplies, the administration continues to believe in the need to “use energy wisely,” the Energy Department said, without elaboration. Department spokesmen did not respond Friday to questions about that statement.
Reaction was quick.
“It’s like saying, ‘I’m a big old fat guy, and food prices have dropped — it’s time to start eating again,’” said Tom Kloza, longtime oil analyst with the Maryland-based Oil Price Information Service.
“If you look at it from the other end, if you do believe that fossil fuels do some sort of damage to the atmosphere ... you come up with a different viewpoint,” Kloza said. “There’s a downside to living large.”
Climate change is a “clear and present and increasing danger,” said Sean Donahue, a lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund.
In a big way, the Energy Department statement just acknowledges the world’s vastly changed reality when it comes to oil.
Just 10 years ago, in summer 2008, oil prices were peaking at $147 a barrel and pummeling the global economy. OPEC was enjoying a massive transfer of wealth, from countries dependent on imported oil. Prices now are about $65.
Today, the US is vying with Russia for the title of top world oil producer. US oil production hit an all-time high this summer, aided by the technological leaps of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
How much the US economy is hooked up to the gas pump, and vice versa, plays into any number of policy considerations, not just economic or environmental ones, but military and geopolitical ones, said John Graham, a former official in the George W. Bush administration, now dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.
“Our ability to play that role as a leader in the world is stronger when we are the strongest producer of oil and gas,” Graham said. “But there are still reasons to want to reduce the amount we consume.”
Current administration proposals include one that would freeze mileage standards for cars and light trucks after 2020, instead of continuing to make them tougher.
The proposal eventually would increase US oil consumption by 500,000 barrels a day, the administration says. While Trump officials say the freeze would improve highway safety, documents released this month showed senior Environmental Protection Agency staffers calculate the administration’s move would actually increase highway deaths.
“American businesses, consumers and our environment are all the losers under his plan,” said Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat. “The only clear winner is the oil industry. It’s not hard to see whose side President Trump is on.”
Administration support has been tepid to null on some other long-running government programs for alternatives to gas-powered cars.
Bill Wehrum, assistant administration of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, spoke dismissively of electric cars — a young industry supported financially by the federal government and many states — this month in a call with reporters announcing the mileage freeze proposal.
“People just don’t want to buy them,” the EPA official said.
Oil and gas interests are campaigning for changes in government conservation efforts on mileage standards, biofuels and electric cars.
In June, for instance, the American Petroleum Institute and other industries wrote eight governors, promoting the dominance of the internal-combustion engine and questioning their states’ incentives to consumers for electric cars.
Surging US and gas production has brought on “energy security and abundance,” Frank Macchiarola, a group director of the American Petroleum Institute trade association, told reporters this week, in a telephone call dedicated to urging scrapping or overhauling of one US program for biofuels.
Fears of oil scarcity used to be a driver of US energy policy, Macchiarola said.
Thanks partly to increased production, “that pillar has really been rendered essentially moot,” he said.