ICC Regional Coordinator for the B-MENA Region and Chairman of the ICC B-MENA Regional Consultative Group (RCG), Mr. Remy Rowhani; Chairman of ICC UAE, H.E. Humaid Ben Salem, and Global Partnerships and Development Director of ICC Headquarters, Mr. Julian Kassum, opened the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) 7th Broader Middle East and North Africa (B-MENA) Regional Meeting on the 25th of January 2023, the first meeting that convened in-person since February 2020 in Morocco at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Remy Rowhani said: “Since the last in-person meeting, we have committed and collectively continued to explore technical solutions to convene, adjusted ourselves and operations to accommodate our efforts to continue to carry out the vision that the ICC Merchants of Peace had and the work of the ICC in the way we found was best”.
He added, “Not only have we been through a pandemic, but we have also experienced lingering fallouts from it, multiple lockdowns, a healthcare crisis, supply chain crises from both the Russia/Ukraine war and the pandemic, which caused labour shortages and abrupt shifts in demand and thankfully we navigated and continue to navigate through those. Now we are witnessing inflation and economic downturn, climate change, and in certain areas of the region, we see significant setbacks in the quest to achieve gender equality”.
Organized by ICC Qatar and hosted by ICC UAE, the two-day meeting, which was held in Dubai, UAE, highlighted the need for diversity and inclusion as a mechanism to strengthen ICC National Committees and their impact. This includes extending services to encompass a wider number of industries, and organizations of various sizes, MSMEs to multinational organizations, ensuring the voice of the real economy is attended to and heard.
Mr. Rowhani stated: “In the next two days, we will be covering a range of themes, including: diversity and inclusion; facilitating trade for SMEs; fighting financial crime; amongst other particular subjects relevant to the world and region as we continue to address and tackle the full range of challenges that are slowing down trade and negatively impacting businesses today.
Mr. Rowhani highlighted that “the meeting aims to not only identify the issues posed on businesses, but to leverage the pool of tools and resources to inspire and mobilize the ICC B-MENA Regional Consultative Group to collaborate and act on projects/ initiatives that are relevant to the Broader MENA Region, and to truly use this forum for to achieve that”.
The meeting gathered approximately 35 high-level delegates, including private businesses Chairmen, Board Members and Secretary Generals, from 13 countries; of whom were from ICC National Committees from the region, including Mr. John Denton, Secretary General of the ICC. The meeting also welcomed new participants from ICC Uzbekistan, ICC Azerbaijan, and ICC Kyrgyzstan, the recently established National Committees as part of ICC’s expansion plans to increase reach into the Central Asia region.
The RCG group acts as a platform to exchange and share best practices, address topics affecting the business community within the region, disseminate and discuss ICC’s forward plans to mobilize the ICC B-MENA RCG and inspire action on projects that are relevant to the B-MENA Region that is in alignment with ICC’s core mission to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere.
The closed meeting kicked off with a presentation from Guest Speaker Mr. Mohamed Daoud, Director – Territory/ Business Development, Governance, Risk & Compliance – GRC, Middle East Moody’s on ‘The Fight Against the Financial Crime Continues – Regional and International Perspectives’.
The conclusions will help shape the priorities for action and inform the regional strategy for the ICC B-MENA RCG Group for the year 2023.