Launch of ICC Academy, a Premier Source for Professional Education

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organization for which USCIB serves as the American national committee, today launched the ICC Academy – setting a new standard for professional education. Based in Singapore and delivered via a digital platform, the Academy will provide rigorous, relevant and applicable business education – encouraging individuals to reach their highest potential with respect to professional competency and ethical conduct.

The Academy has been launched in partnership with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the government agency that promotes international trade and assists Singapore companies to internationalize. Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang joined ICC board members at the launch of the ICC Academy, which aims to enhance the expertise of practitioners across a wide range of business sectors.



“As the world’s business organization, ICC has long provided training and certification programs to help build business skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Terry McGraw, chairman of ICC (as well as USCIB) and chairman of McGraw Hill Financial [now S&P Global]. “We are taking this commitment to growing a skilled workforce and jobs globally to a new level with the launch of this Academy, which will be internationally recognized and accessible to all – in developed and developing countries.”

IE Singapore and ICC share a common vision to promote global trade. The former’s role is to establish Singapore as a global trading hub while the latter promotes open trade and investment and helps businesses worldwide meet the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly integrated world economy. The ICC Academy is a successful partnership milestone for both parties in nurturing global business leaders and experts. It will serve as a center of excellence and thought leadership for the global business community.

Taking full advantage of ICC’s extensive global network, the ICC Academy promotes the highest standards of excellence in global professional education – providing a wide range of specialized programs that are recognized worldwide. Courses are designed and taught by ICC’s unrivalled roster of experts and practitioners, incorporating insights from external senior business leaders and policymakers.

ICC Academy courses are delivered via a dynamic digital platform, using innovative tools to give the Academy global reach. The ICC Academy can therefore offer those in developing and remote regions the same access to world-class professional education as those in advanced economies – developing skills even in the most challenging locations.

“E-learning initiatives are being adopted as a means of maximizing educational budgets as well as expanding the potential breadth of audience – without compromising on the quality or depth of learning,” said ICC Secretary General John Danilovich. “Provided users have access to the Internet, distance learning means there will be no inequalities with respect to educational potential via the ICC Academy – no matter where an individual is situated.”

The use of a digital platform also allows ICC to centralize the Academy in one location: Singapore – an established international trade hub, underpinned by its strategic location and presence of a strong trading community. It is chosen as the location of the ICC Academy because of the country’s well-established ecosystem of business infrastructure, strong network of companies and large pool of skilled talent. The ICC Academy will further enhance this trade ecosystem.

Teo Eng Cheong, chief executive officer of IE Singapore, said: “The establishment of the ICC Academy global headquarters in Singapore is a testament to our role as an international trading hub. With a common mandate to promote international trade, IE Singapore and ICC can jointly contribute to growth of expertise and talent for the sector globally.”

The ICC Academy will draw on ICC expertise in specialist fields – starting with a faculty in banking and trade finance shaped by over 600 banking experts from 110 countries. The faculty features around 70 online courses and two global certificates in trade finance. Following this initial trade finance focus, the ICC Academy will broaden its scope – introducing new curricula, spanning all ICC competences from international law to anti-corruption.

ICC Academy website

USCIB Gives Feedback on OECD New Approach to Economic Challenges Project

L-R: Rick Johnston (Citi), David Mallet (Wells Fargo), Tom Molitor (Wells Fargo), Mathilde Mesnard (OECD), Peter Robinson (USCIB) and William Hynes (OECD).
L-R: Rick Johnston (Citi), David Mallet (Wells Fargo), Tom Molitor (Wells Fargo), Mathilde Mesnard (OECD), Peter Robinson (USCIB) and William Hynes (OECD).

USCIB and member representatives met with officials from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on January 22 at USCIB’s New York office to give feedback on the OECD’s New Approach to Economic Challenges (NAEC), aimed at updating the organization’s instruments and policy analyses.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson met with the main authors of the NAEC report, Mathilde Mesnard and William Hynes, along with member representatives from Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

The informal meeting gave USCIB an opportunity to provide member feedback and concerns at this stage of the NAEC project.

USCIB is the American affiliate of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), which acts as the voice of business in the OECD and has provided structured input to the NAEC project.

The OECD’s final synthesis report on its NAEC work will be delivered to OECD ministers in June 2015.


Global Trade Set to Benefit From ICC Trade Register Report

4762_image002It has long been anecdotally known that trade finance is a low risk for lenders. That claim now has a wealth of data to back it up. Today the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) released its 2014 Trade Register Report, providing overwhelming evidence that trade and export finance – in all its forms – is a low risk bank financing technique.

The report supports ICC’s and USCIB’s advocacy of trade finance as a strong contribution to economic recovery and growth. Its findings hold the potential to alter attitudes towards trade finance, and therefore contribute to the growth of both global trade and the global economy.

The Trade Register also highlights a concern about the effect overly-stringent money laundering regulations have on trade finance flows. Strict regulations have damaged access of some firms to trade and export finance services.

“The intention of the Register was to progress the understanding of trade finance, its importance to global trade and its highly-effective risk mitigation capabilities,” explained Kah Chye Tan, Chair of ICC Banking Commission. “The impact of the Register, however, is much greater. As the latest results show, the Register provides concrete fact-based evidence that trade finance is low risk which, if fully reflected in capital requirements, would help banks to give companies the financing support they need for their exports, and to contribute even further to the global economy as it recovers from the global financial crisis.”

The report’s findings may help policymakers understand the negative consequences such laws have on export finance, which is crucial for economic growth in the developing world.

First launched in 2009 by ICC’s Banking Commission, the report is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading analytical reports on global risks for the trade finance industry—identifying risks across a range of trade finance products and markets.

Read more on the ICC website.

ICC Flags up Concerns Over Effect of Money-Laundering Laws (Financial Times)

Staff contact: Eva Hampl

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SMEs Face Significant Financing Gap

Speaking at the World Trade Organization’s annual “aid-for-trade” review earlier this month, a representative of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) made a plea for added financing for cross-border trade.

ICC Senior Policy Manager Thierry Senechal said that trade finance intermediation is crucial today as it provides real-time risk mitigation, while improving liquidity and cash flow of the trading parties. It also gives localized small- and medium-sized enterprises much-needed access to credit and working capital to finance exports and imports.

Between 80 and 90 percent of global trade depends on some sort of trade finance, yet structural access issues, related to factors such as poorly-developed banking sectors or perceived country credit risk, continue to act as bottlenecks.

In remarks at the event, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said: “Overcoming existing skills gaps in developing countries can help them draw enhanced benefits from their participation in the multilateral trading system. These discussions have brought some key areas into focus, including access to finance — and trade finance in particular.”

Click here to read more on ICC’s website.

Staff contact: Eva Hampl

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ICC names Donald Smith New Banking Commission Technical Advisor

ICC announced earlier this month the appointment of three new technical advisors for its Commission on Banking – a leading global policy and rule-making body for the banking industry known worldwide for its trade finance products and services including Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits, the most successful privately drafted rules for trade ever developed.

These  include Donald Smith, president of Global Trade Advisory Ltd.

Smith has over 40 years’ experience in international banking operations and trade product management. He has been responsible for international operations for 4 banks. He served as senior project manager for the ICC’s 2011 Basel III Default Registry project which documented the level of risk in trade transactions; chaired the US Delegation to the ICC Banking Commission from 1998 to 2009 and co-chaired the drafting group which produced the ICC’s first International Standard Banking Practices (ISBP) publication. He presently serves on several ICC Task Forces. Read more on ICC’s website.

Uncertainty Hampering Trade Finance ICC Survey Shows

4547_image002The International Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 survey on trade and finance, released in June, has found that a continued shortage of trade finance for international trade remains a major challenge for economic recovery and development, with many traders depending on overdraft and other corporate loans to finance exports and imports.

The proliferation of new regulations in recent years has increased cost pressure on financial institutions and depressed markets. Some 65% of surveyed experts said implementation of Basel III regulations is affecting the cost of funds and liquidity for trade finance. While many changes have already been implemented or proposed, the regulatory future remains unclear due to lack of harmonization, which remains a major problem for trade financiers and their clients.

The ICC survey positively indicates that despite uneven performance around the world in 2012, the market for trade finance does show signs of slow and steady growth, with temporary trade measures imposed during the financial crisis – including the rise in fees for trade –slowly being removed.

“This shows that financial intermediaries are continuing to satisfy the demand for financing and that investing in trade assets is part of a more sustainable model of banking, said Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization, in the survey’s foreword.

Click here to read more on ICC’s website.

Staff contact: Eva Hampl

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ICC Recognized for Trade Services

The ICC Banking Commission has won the Trade and Forfaiting Review
2013 Excellence Award for Best Non-Bank Trade Services Provider.

With 80 years of experience and more than 600 members in over 100 countries, the commission is ICC’s largest commission and has gained a reputation as the most authoritative voice in the field of trade finance.

The ICC Banking Commission rules and related services include rules and guidelines on documentary credits, UCP 600 – the most successful privately drafted rules for trade ever developed – and Bank Payment Obligation rules on supply chain finance.

The award follows the commission’s recent launch of new standards in the field of trade finance, including Uniform Rules for Forfaiting and Bank Payment Obligation and International Standard Banking Practice.  Both publications are available for purchase in the USCIB International Bookstore.

Click here to read more on ICC’s website.

ICC Launches First International Supply-Chain Financing Conference

digital mapInnovations in working capital solutions are more vital in today’s economic climate than they have ever been before. With companies and suppliers under conflicting pressures to improve payment terms, reduce prices and improve cash flow efficiencies, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and its Banking Commission are focusing on establishing new financial solutions that will enable corporations to maintain a resilient supply chain. In light of this, the ICC Banking Commission has organized its first-ever ICC Supply-Chain Financing Conference, in Paris on October 4-5.

“World trade is predicted to grow by 75% in the next 15 years, with merchandise trade volumes set to climb to US$48 trillion by 2025, up from US$27.2 trillion today. From today’s emerging markets, new international powerhouses will arise to further drive world trade growth,” said Andre Casterman, Conference Co-Chair, Head of Banking and Trade Solutions, SWIFT and Co-Chair of the ICC Bank Payment Obligation (BPO) Project.

“To support such growth in a volatile economic climate, new supply chain finance rules are being established – Bank Payment Obligation rules, for instance, offer a new instrument that combines the benefits of the letter of credit with those of open account trade,” Mr. Casterman said. “Our conference provides a unique opportunity to learn from corporate experts and bankers about their visions and strategies for supply chain finance today.”

The conference combines educational sessions on different supply chain finance techniques while drawing on case studies and examples of best practice. Topics will be divided between “Invoice-based supply chain finance techniques” and “Purchase order-based supply chain finance techniques”.

Click here to read more on ICC’s website.

Staff Contact: Eva Hampl

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Global Trade Recovery Faces Difficulties Across Many Low-Income Countries

Most respondents agreed in the Survey that business on the whole has been significantly improving since the final quarter of 2009
Most respondents agreed in the Survey that business on the whole has been significantly improving since the final quarter of 2009

Global trade flows rebounded across many regions in 2010, according to latest trade and finance global survey from USCIB’s affiliate, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), but high pricing meant that traders in many low-income countries still faced difficulties accessing affordable trade finance.

Representatives from 210 banks in 94 countries responded to the ICC survey, which asked for their opinion, as well as statistics, on the current trade finance landscape in their respective countries. The survey, the fourth consecutive ICC poll of its kind, registered 30 percent more responses than in the previous year, in terms of the number of banks.

Recovery worldwide has been driven by increased trade in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as between Asia and the rest of the world, according to the survey. Other regions, especially Africa, continued to have stressed markets, and the cost of trade finance also remained high in many parts of Asia and Latin America.

Traders in many low-income countries still have considerable difficulty accessing trade finance at an affordable cost, particularly for import finance. One positive development is that the average price for letters of credit, or “L/Cs”, in large emerging economies fell from 150-250 basis points in 2009 to 70-150 basis points in 2010.

“What is needed now is a more targeted use of resources, focusing on the poorer countries and small and medium sized enterprises around the world,” said Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization. “They should not be paying the high price for the repair and re-regulation of the global finance industry.”

Most respondents, however, agreed in the survey – which was commissioned by the WTO Expert Group on Trade Finance to track the developments in the industry – that business on the whole has been significantly improving since the final quarter of 2009. Markets in several advanced economies are quickly returning to normal trading conditions, in terms of liquidity and the availability of trade finance. The acceptance of risk and pricing has also become more favorable.

The 2003-2010 SWIFT trade traffic figures, which were provided to ICC on an exclusive basis, confirm that, overall, the downward trend in volumes experienced in 2008 and 2009 is now over. There were a total of 42.9 million transactions registered in 2010, representing a 5.81 percent increase over 2009 volumes, which stood at 40.5 million (rounded).

Results have been uneven across regions, according to SWIFT. Asia-Pacific continues to register far greater volumes for sent (import) messages. The regions with the largest volumes   ̶  Asia-Pacific, Europe-Eurozone and North America   ̶  showed larger fluctuations than those with smaller volumes.

Africa showed the highest growth between 2009 and 2010, at 21.2 percent, followed by Asia-Pacific with 10.1 percent and Central & Latin America with 9.7 percent. However, it was the large volume of transactions in Asia that drove the upswing in SWIFT traffic, rather than Africa, where volumes were small.

Banks responding to the ICC Survey witnessed an increasing demand for bank-intermediated L/Cs, which are particularly favoured by traders and producers in developing countries with weak institutions.

Survey respondents were concerned about the impact of new regulatory initiatives, in particular the new requirements of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision document known as Basel III, on the financing of international trade.

There has been concern that a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation could threaten trade finance in emerging markets dependant on trade.

Banks argue that rules set by bank regulators impose capital requirements on trade finance and are disproportionately high considering the relative safety of these mechanisms. The rules, they say, force them to lock up funds that could otherwise be used to support trade.

The Survey revealed that respondents are not only wary of these regulations, but also do not have a clear understanding of them. When asked the question “Do you anticipate that the Basel III requirements will cause your bank to re-assess its trade finance strategy and products?” 34 percent indicated that the new regulatory regime would make their financial institution reconsider its trade finance strategy. At the same time, 57 percent of respondents answered that they were lacking sufficient information on the new regulations.

“The regulators should step up their engagement with the industry and seek feedback to ensure that the regulations are on track to achieving what they are intended to accomplish,” said ICC Banking Commission Chair Kah Chye Tan.

ICC research has shown that, contrary to the beliefs underpinning new regulations, trade finance is low risk and self-liquidating in nature. In 2010, ICC developed the International Trade Credit (Loss) Register for collecting performance data in trade finance.

The register specifically examined the default risk of trade finance instruments between 2005 and 2009. Out of some 5.2 million transactions, with a total value of over US$2.5 trillion, ICC found that off-balance sheet trade finance transactions had an average tenor of just 80 days and an insignificant incidence of default. Even during the global economic downturn, trade finance transactions had relatively low default levels, with fewer than 500 defaults for 2.8 million transactions.

“This initiative is particularly useful in providing evidence that trade finance is safe and worth promoting,” said Mr. Lamy.

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Banking Rules Set to Drive Discussion at the ICC Banking Commissions 80th Anniversary Meeting

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), USCIB’s affiliate, will hold its annual Banking Commission meeting this year from March 21-23 in Zurich, Switzerland, where more than 250 members including bankers, business leaders, finance experts and government officials, are set to attend. Some topics of discussion will feature a presentation of the 2011-2015 strategy, as well as discussion on key policy topics from International Standard Banking Practice (ISBP), to the ICC Register on Trade and Finance, to counter terrorist financing and anti-money laundering.  The ICC is presenting its new Banking Commission to members at the upcoming meeting as part of an effort to encourage dialogue, make policy recommendations and develop rules to improve trade finance. Leading experts in trade and finance will speak at the meeting. A highlight of the meeting will be the release of the findings from the ICC Global Survey 2011, which covers the year 2010, achieved record participation levels, with around 210 respondents from 94 countries.

Click here to read more on ICC’s website.

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