Regional Consultative Group South Asia - Middle East
The First meeting of the ICC RCG South Asia-Middle East region was convened at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry Building, Sharjah UAE on 3rd May 2009 hosted by ICC UAE and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

An Opening Session prior to the meeting was addressed by:
- Chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Al Midfa
- Chairman, ICC UAE, Dr. Ahmed Saif Belhasa
- ICC’s Regional Coordinator for South Asia-Middle East, Mr. Tariq M. Rangoonwala

The First ICC RCG SAME meeting commenced at 10.45am.

The following were present at the meeting:

Chair / Regional Coordinator Tariq M. Rangoonwala
Members
Bahrain Ataur Rahman
Secretary, ICC Bangladesh
Georgia Fady Asly
Chairman, ICC Georgia
India S. N. Agarwal
President, ICC India

Ashok Ummat
Executive Director, ICC India
Iran (Islamic Republic of) Mohammad Mehdi Behkish
Secretary General, ICC Iran
Jordan Mohammad Hadi Asfour
Chairman, ICC Jordan

Rajaa Al Jaouni
Secretary General, ICC Jordan
Pakistan Tariq M. Rangoonwala
Chairman, ICC Pakistan

Javaid Basini
Secretary, ICC Pakistan
Saudi Arabi Naser Almushaikeh
General Coordinator, ICC Saudi Arabia
Sri Lanka Tissa Jayaweera
Chairman, ICC Sri Lanka

Gamini Peiris
CEO, ICC Sri Lanka
Syria Naji Chaoui
Secretary General, ICC Syria
UAE Ahmed Saif Belhasa
Chairman, ICC UAE

Saeed Obaid Al Jarwan
Executive Secretary General, ICC UAE

Kifaya Hamami
General Coordinator, ICC UAE
ICC International Secretariat Francois-Gabriel Ceyrac
Head of National Committees & Membership
United Nations Ard Venema
Procurement Services
Did not attend ICC Bahrain
ICC Kuwait
ICC Lebanon
ICC Nepal
ICC Qatar


The following agenda was adopted for deliberation by the meeting:

1. ICC's present role and introduction of initiatives to increase its effectiveness internationally in the context of Regional Consultative Groups and their objectives within the ICC framework.

2. Role of South Asia/ Middle East in the World Economy – Developments and initiatives and the outlook for National Committees in terms of world trade and G-20 recommendations.

3. Report and views by National Committees on their ongoing activities, finance and memberships.

4. Discussion on enhancing interaction with ICC HQs in terms of participation in meetings and advocacy of policies that are of regional importance.

5. Formation of a list of priorities for National Committees in the region with regard to ICC, WCF and other initiatives.

6. Proposals on joint efforts for the promotion of seminars, meetings and formation of new National Committees
in the region.

7. Promoting ICC Arbitration, Hearing Centres, ADR, ICC Publications, printing and translation.

8. Any other matter.

9. Finalize date and venue for the next RCG meeting and/or CEO Forum


1st ICC RCG SAME Resolutions for conveyance to the ICC Executive Board NC Com
After the first round the meeting proceeded to cover the agenda items in detail by utilizing a Survey Questionnaire to not only determine the position of each NC on various issues but also to develop a consensus position on issues which need to be highlighted and conveyed.

In this regard the following resolutions for conveyance to the ICC Executive Board's NC Com were concluded:

1. It was resolved to establish links on NC websites within the region and to recommend to the ICC for having an appropriate space available on its website for RCGs.

2. It was resolved to recommend to ICC to examine the development of regional commissions on relevant and important issues.

3. It was resolved to convey to the ICC the need for ICC arbitration venues and hearing centers within the SAME region as well as engaging the SAME region in joint efforts for the promotion of ICC and ICC arbitration.

4. It was resolved to recommend to ICC for ICC's WTO and UN offices to establish communication or the dissemination of information on WTO and UN developments to NCs within the SAME region.

5. It was resolved to convey to the ICC of the SAME region's position on the UN/ WTO classification of ICC as an 'NGO' to be unacceptable and consequentially ICC's recognition as the World Business Organization (WBO).

6. It was resolved to request those remaining NCs within the SAME region to sign and convey to ICC, the ICC Charter. The four countries which have not signed the ICC Charter as yet are: ICC Bangladesh, ICC Nepal, ICC Kuwait and ICC Qatar.

7. It was resolved to convey to ICC the difficulties faced by ICC NCs within the SAME region in obtaining business visas especially for the EU, USA and Canada. This for many NCs is viewed as an additional non-tariff barrier because it restricts business travel as well as travel of ICC's members and officials to participate in ICC events. It is recommended for ICC to take this issue up at both the UN and WTO levels and to seek to address the extra ordinary delays in the issuance of visas by OECD member countries. This was also viewed as one of the direct consequences of ICC being categorized as an NGO.

8. It was resolved to convey to ICC of the SAME region's full support to promote the BASCAP initiative of ICC within the region and to seek to promote the establishment of country portals.

9. It was resolved for all NCs within the SAME region to establish an E-BITT Commission at their respective NC level and to seek to interact with the ICC E-BITT Commission in Paris in view of ICC's leading role internationally with its WSIS and BASIS initiatives.

10. It was resolved for RCG SAME NCs to promote the WCF programs such as WCN Chamber Trust Seal initiative within the region utilizing the membership of Chambers of Commerce within the NC membership network in the region. With regard to ATA Carnet system it was resolved that those countries in the SAME region who have already implemented the ATA Carnet system will assist other NCs in the region in the implementation of ATA Carnet system. At the same time RCG SAME would like to convey to ICC for such ICC/ WCF programs to be first offered to NCs for implementation rather than assigning them to other organizations within a country where a NC exists. In the case of ATA Carnet in the GCC region it was informed that accession and implementation will be done by the GCC and not the individual country. It was resolved to seek a clarification from ICC/ WCF as to how this will be carried out.

11. It was resolved to develop new NCs within the SAME region in countries where NCs have not yet been established. In this regard ICC UAE and ICC Jordan are working to establish an ICC NC in Oman. ICC Georgia would work to establish ICC NCs in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

12. It was resolved to request from the ICC Services Department, a list of ICC Publications available for translation in view of regional NCs having requirement for printing ICC Publications in their respective local languages.

13. It was resolved to convey to ICC the reservation of regional NCs with regard to the practice of contacting by WCF of local chambers directly without keeping the NC informed. Hence it is a recommendation of the SAME region, wherever there is a NC network established the WCF should keep the NC informed of its communications with entities within a NC's country well prior to any event or meeting.

14. It was resolved to recommend to the ICC Executive Board for the ICC Transport and Logistics Commission to be headed by an individual from the SAME region subject to the merits of the individual. This is in view of the extensive developments and commitments being made in this sector by all countries in the SAME region and in view of its vital location and importance to world trade.

15. It was resolved to recommend; with regard to nominations from the region for all ICC Executive Board elections that the ICC Chairmanship may if it chooses, directly elect one individual from the SAME region however it is recommended for each RCG to be able to nominate a candidate for acceptance by the Executive Board as a member. The Executive Board needs to take cognizance and accept the RCG nominee. It was also resolved to convey to the ICC the need to recognize the various cultural differences within a world body hence in the event of a nominee under the current system being not elected to the Executive Board, it was deeply felt by all present regarding the communication of the non-election of a nomination by way of a single two line sentence, to be offensive and inappropriate. It is therefore recommended for the ICC to provide an appropriate and courteous communication in order to be sensitive to the cultural norms of its various constituent NCs and to be cognizant of the standing of the individuals who have offered themselves for this voluntary service regardless of whether they have been elected or not.

16. The ICC RCG SAME resolved to congratulate ICC UAE for convening a successful ICC Banking Commission in Dubai, UAE on 10-11 March 2009. It was further resolved that ICC UAE had taken all necessary facilitative measures to arrange the issuance of a visa for the ICC Israel Banking Commission delegate and had arranged for the visa to be issued however the delegate from Israel was unable to attend and had communicated her thanks and appreciation to ICC UAE. Hence it was resolved that it is not in the keeping of the spirit of ICC and its multilateral agenda for any NC to create adverse publicity viz. its counterpart without taking into account all facts. ICC NCs are national bodies but are limited by state regulations and procedures which need to be accomplished and were very well accomplished in the particular case cited by ICC UAE. In this regard it was resolved for the communications presented by ICC UAE related to this event to be taken on record for conveyance to the ICC Executive Board NC Com during its next meeting in KL and to inform them of the facts with the request to encourage NCs to cooperate and understand each other.

17. It was resolved to convene a regional event with ICC Commercial Crime Services to be hosted by a regional NC. In this regard ICC UAE expressed their interest. In this regard ICC UAE would provide the Regional Coordinator with further information in due course. It was further resolved for all NCs within the region to endeavor to keep the RCG SAME informed of ICC events hosted by any regional NC locally, as per the schedule of ICC events provided by ICC Iran, which would be conveyed to the ICC Executive Board NC Com for their information.

18. It was resolved, on the information provided by ICC India of the convening of a ICC CEO Form in New Delhi in December 2009, to seek to convene on its sidelines the Second ICC RCG SAME meeting. In this regard ICC India would provide the Regional Coordinator with further information in due course.

19. The ICC RCG SAME passed a resolution of appreciation and thanks to ICC UAE and its Chairman Dr. Ahmed Saif Belhasa and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry and its Chairman Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Al Midfa for hosting the First ICC RCG SAME meeting.

Observations by the National Committees:
In the first round of discussions the following brief observations were made:

ICC UAE

Dr. Ahmed Saif Belhasa (Chairman) and Mr. Saaed Obaid Al Jarwan (Executive Secretary General) expressed the need for more communications between the RCG and ICC HQ and observed that it would be useful for the RCG to have a RCG website and an intranet link with the ICC's main website along with an RCG interface with NCs websites. This would serve to enhance communications within the region as well as with ICC.


ICC Saudi Arabia

Mr. Naser Al Mushaikeh (Secretary General) observed that as he was still new with ICC he would reserve his comments for the moment but found the RCG to be an encouraging development which can be utilized to reflect and address important regional issues.


ICC India

Mr. S. N. Agarwal (Chairman) and Mr. Ashok Ummat (Executive Director) observed and requested that number of meetings of ICC itself in the SAME region need to be increased..


ICC Iran

Mohammad Mehdi Behkish (Secretary General) observed the requirement for improving the system of communication between not only ICC and the region but also amongst regional NCs. He observed, there was a lack of exchange of information on events within NCs and regions. In addition there is a need to have regional commissions. The National Committee in Iran has found that the information and seminars for banking and arbitration are very important and in this regard many workshops and seminars during the year were conducted by ICC Iran. A list of events planned for 2009 by ICC Iran was also circulated to all members.


ICC Bangladesh

Mr. Ataur Rahman (Secretary) observed and requested for concentrating on and identifying issues which are common within the RCG SAME.


ICC Georgia

Mr. Fady Asly (Chairman) observed and emphasized on the importance of ICC Georgia's proximity to the SAME region and the opportunity it provides for networking with NCs in the SAME region as a value addition to ICC Georgia's membership.


ICC Syria

Mr. Naji Chaoui (Secretary General) observed the need for the RCG SAME and the ICC to take a combined position on sanctions which can result in trade distortion and unfair practices. He also called for the need for more arbitration centers and to identify new locations and potential venues.

ICC Jordan

Mr. Mohammed Hadi Asfour (Chairman) and Ms. Rajaa Al-Jaouni (Secretary General) observed the requirement to have the appropriate guidelines for website, awareness, promotion and in this context both the RCG SAME and ICC should also interact with the Arab Regional Committee.


ICC Sri Lanka

Mr. Tissa Jayaweera (Chairman) and Mr. Gamini Peiris (CEO) observed lack of ICC events within the region and mentioned that they would like to see more ICC and WCF events within the region. They emphasized for both the ICC and RCG SAME to promote events, which may be hosted regionally or by individual NCs within the region.


ICC Pakistan

Mr. Tariq M. Rangoonwala (Chairman) and Mr. Javaid Basini (Secretary) observed a need to increase communication and interaction amongst the regional NCs as had been suggested by others and endorsed the observation of participants for the creation of a provision in the ICC website for Regional Consultative Groups in terms of not only national and regional events but also WCF and ICC events hosted within the region as well as other sub-regional groupings and commission events. They also suggested to cooperate on the implementation and promotion of ICC and WCF programs in the region such as the ATA Carnet system, promotion of ICC Arbitration and hearing centers.


Closing:
The meeting then concluded with a vote of thanks to the Regional Coordinator.