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          8th World Chambers Congress Speech by Peter Mihok, WCF Chair

          - His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Deputy Emir and Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar
          - ICC Chairman Gerard Worms
          - Chairman of Qatar Chamber Sheikh Kalifa
          - Excellencies,
          - Distinguished Delegates,
          - Distinguished Guests,

          In my new role as chairman of the World Chambers Federation it is with great pride and pleasure that I welcome you to our 8th World Chambers Congress – the first to take place in the Middle East.

          Whether you are a Qatar resident or have travelled from one of the 104 countries represented here, whether you are a first-time participant or long-time friend of the congress we can promise you a rewarding experience at this unique event.

          During our three-day gathering, we will have a valuable opportunity to examine some of the most pertinent contemporary challenges affecting chamber and business operations. We will have the chance to share ideas, learn from our peers and form partnerships that will strengthen ties among our formidable network of over 12,000 chambers.

          Chambers of commerce and industry at local, regional and national level are key players in creating a thriving business environment, in promoting interests of entrepreneurs in domestic environment as well as in promoting them in international bilateral and multilateral relations.

          As chambers make up a large proportion of the international chamber of commerce´s membership, the world chambers federation and our members remain steadfast in our support of the icc mission to promote cross border trade and investment, sharing a common belief that open and fair markets can bring about positive change in the world.

          400 years after the first chamber of commerce was created in Marseille, WCF is a pragmatic forum for chambers to tackle the issues they face. We strive to help chambers remain relevant in today´s globalized world and in recent years have embarked on several new projects. These include a chamber accreditation system and a partnership with the Oslo Business for Peace Foundation to promote the relationship between business and peace through socially responsible and ethical business.

          Of course we also continue to improve existing tools and services such as ata carnets to reduce costs for the temporary import or export of goods, certificates of origin, testifying to the origins of goods and the chamber trust seal promoting online commercial trust.

          I am taking this opportunity, on behalf of all of us, to express our thanks and appreciation to qatar authorities and especially to his Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani Emir of Qatar. As well as to the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry for their support and excellent preparation of the congress. This year the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Qatar celebrates it’s 50th anniversary. So let me express my sincere congratulations to representatives and members of the chamber on this achievement.
          I would also like to thank the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who you may recall hosted the 2nd World Chambers Congress. In particular I thank Chairman Bark-Jae Shin, for his role in securing a message that you will see shortly from united nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon as well as a message from the World Bank MENA Region Vice-President which you will see in our world in crisis plenary on Thursday.

          Your highness
          Excellencies
          Ladies and gentlemen

          Today‘s world is changing turbulently. All of us, our economies and countries – we all are part of these changes. Some countries are descending from their pedestals. Several icons of the global economy have lost their positions and their places are being taken by new players. However, the result of these changes should not be winners on the one hand and losers on the other hand. Changes bring challenges and opportunities for everyone, and that is our main topic of this year´s congress. I believe that in the individual panels and discussions, we will find these opportunities for our business, our economies and countries. Let us seek together such global solutions that will lead to higher efficiency in the world economy and to a better quality of life for people on our planet.

          Finally, I thank each and every one of you for your active participation here at the 8th World Chambers Congress. In a world where so much of lives and business is now conducted virtually it is testament to the value of opportunities that are found through in-person contact.

          I wish to all of us a useful and enriching stay in Qatar. Enjoy all this beautiful country, which is certainly one of the pearls of this region.

          ***END***