As chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to the 8th World Chambers Congress here in Doha.
Following on from yesterday’s ICC World Trade Agenda Summit, with close to 2,000 registered participants, the 2013 congress promises a rich business programme that offers us an opportunity to address some of the most pressing business concerns of today.
More than 90 years ago, a group of entrepreneurs who called themselves “merchants of peace” established ICC.
Like our founders, we remain convinced that strengthening commercial ties among nations is not only good for business, but good for global living standards and good for peace.
Our core mission today remains unchanged: to promote international trade and investment through a rules-based multilateral system in an increasingly globalized world.
Today though, our global network extends to over six million companies, chambers of commerce and business associations in more than 130 countries.
I don’t need to tell anyone here that the last three years have been a challenging time for the global economy.
I don’t need to tell you how important it is that we continue to do everything we can to drive economic growth by ensuring that international trade, the lifeblood of the world economy, flows smoothly, unobstructed by economic nationalism and the other forms of protectionism that ICC fights against.
The arguments for global trade are undeniable: global trade has lifted millions of people out of poverty and contributed to improving living standards around the world.
We must continue to spread the word about the benefits of keeping markets open and encouraging greater flows of cross-border trade and investment and contribute to alternative approaches to making progress on the multilateral trade agenda that can spur growth, foster economic opportunities, and create much-needed jobs.
Today, ICC’s business world trade agenda initiative, its work in the G20 process and with the UN, and its renowned dispute resolution services are great examples of our organization’s influence and continued efforts to promote trade.
You will learn more about all these activities during the congress, and how you can leverage them for your chambers and your members.
The World Chambers Congress never fails to underscore how essential chambers are as a vast resource of information, tools and services. Highlighting chamber potential and dynamism, this event offers a unique opportunity for interaction among chambers.
It is opportunities like this that help strengthen chamber and business networks through frank exchange and the sharing of best practices so that we can effectively contribute to addressing global business concerns.
Indeed, it is only by working together that we can successfully promote trade and investment across frontiers and help local and global businesses meet the challenges and opportunities of today’s globalized world.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The chamber community is a vital link to the network of small and medium-sized enterprises that are the backbone of all economies, in developed and developing countries alike.
The future of the global economy heavily depends on them. You enable us to tap into that community and to help it to prosper.
I encourage you to visit our ICC booth at the impressive exhibition space we have here to find out more about essential ICC products and services that make trading easier for businesses around the world.
I would like to thank our co-hosts the Qatar chamber and congratulate them on their 50th anniversary being celebrated this year.
I conclude by extending my hope that this year’s World Chambers Congress opens up great opportunities for all. Thank you.