A Broader Compass — Part 2 of A Century of Commerce

This is the sec­ond of three parts of my cen­ten­ni­al his­to­ry of the Inter­na­tion­al Cham­ber of Com­merce. Part one of the his­to­ry — “Two Ter­ri­ble Decades” — is avail­able here.

This part cov­ers the activ­i­ty of ICC from 1945 at the birth of the “Bret­ton Woods” agree­ments, espe­cial­ly the GATT, to the mid-1990s when gov­ern­ments cre­at­ed the World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion. This was the peri­od of ICCs great­est inno­va­tion and influ­ence as the glob­al rep­re­sen­ta­tive of trad­ing busi­ness­es. It saw the birth of mod­ern Mul­ti-Nation­al Enter­prise: firms that account for four-fifths of goods trade and almost all pri­vate direct invest­ment whose inter­ests ICC rep­re­sent­ed through­out the peri­od cov­ered in this part.

A Broad­er Compass
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My account begins with the cre­ation of the first endur­ing, non-dis­crim­i­na­to­ry, lib­er­al­is­ing trad­ing sys­tem. ICC played an active and even promi­nent role in those efforts. It lat­er con­sol­i­dat­ed its influ­ence in glob­al eco­nom­ic man­age­ment, join­ing a unique and lit­tle-pub­li­cised con­sul­ta­tive forum with the lead­ers of key UN institutions. 

The five decades cov­ered in this part lead to the sec­ond ‘glob­al­i­sa­tion’ of the world econ­o­my, begin­ning in the 1980s. ICC’s mem­bers’ invest­ments, man­age­ment skills and tech­nolo­gies, com­bined with rapid­ly ris­ing demand in both rich and mid­dle-income coun­tries cre­at­ed the globe-span­ning pro­duc­tion net­works that are (still) the back­bone of mod­ern com­merce. ICC’s busi­ness ser­vices expand­ed rapid­ly, too; not only its unique con­tract arbi­tra­tion ‘court’ but also its pro­vi­sion of inter­na­tion­al busi­ness stan­dards and infrastructure.

It was a peri­od of restored auton­o­my (‘decol­o­niza­tion’) in scores of economies; of oil-price hikes, reces­sion, boom, many ter­ri­ble eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy choic­es in large and small economies, and; the emer­gence of UN insti­tu­tions that fos­tered a “North-South” divide on trade, invest­ment and envi­ron­ment poli­cies that ICC deplored. It also saw the emer­gence of a new and chal­leng­ing struc­ture of the world econ­o­my: one in which the largest trad­ing economies were low- or mid­dle-income economies in Asia and Latin Amer­i­ca. It was chal­leng­ing for the insti­tu­tions of glob­al gov­er­nance that had been designed by — and large­ly for — the rich indus­tri­alised economies of the Atlantic basin. It was chal­leng­ing for ICC whose pro­grams had com­ple­ment­ed those institutions.

Final­ly (for this sum­ma­ry, at least) it was the peri­od of the great­est geo­graph­ic expan­sion of ICC’s mem­ber­ship: one obvi­ous rea­son for the Chamber’s “broad­er com­pass”. The dilu­tion of the ear­li­er focus on the “Atlantic World” was nec­es­sary and strength­ened ICC’s glob­al rel­e­vance. But it also chal­lenged the coher­ence of ICC’s poli­cies and mes­sages. By the end of this peri­od, the com­pe­ti­tion among busi­ness organ­i­sa­tions for “CEO buy-in” on glob­al gov­er­nance pro­grams was begin­ning to push it toward new forms of col­lab­o­ra­tion with, espe­cial­ly, the World Eco­nom­ic Forum (“Davos”).

Table of Contents (for this part):

A: Growth to stagfla­tion
Chap­ter 22: Sum­ma­ry: the world econ­o­my after 1945
Chap­ter 23: Sum­ma­ry: the Bret­ton Woods ‘catch’
Chap­ter 24: At the birth of the trade and pay­ments sys­tem
Chap­ter 25: Invest­ment, enter­prise, busi­ness ser­vices
Chap­ter 26: Devel­op­ment and the ICC’s glob­al mis­sion
Chap­ter 27: The State and Pri­vate Enter­prise
Chap­ter 28: Cold War, Con­vert­ibil­i­ty and Euro­pean Inte­gra­tion
Chap­ter 29: Law and com­mer­cial prac­tice
Chap­ter 30: North ver­sus South: the GATT, UNCTAD and ICC
Chap­ter 31: Bret­ton Woods blows up
Chap­ter 32: Oil price ris­es, stagfla­tion and debt
Chap­ter 33: The ICC in the mid-1970s
Chap­ter 34: Busi­ness, soci­ety, envi­ron­ment
Chap­ter 35: The Tokyo Round of trade nego­ti­a­tions
Chap­ter 36: Late 1970s gloom sets in
B: Tur­moil and tri­umph
Chap­ter 37: Sum­ma­ry: from gloom to boom
Chap­ter 38: Debt, pro­tec­tion and struc­tur­al change
Chap­ter 39: The great­est GATT round and after
Chap­ter 40: Com­mod­i­ty trade and UNCTAD
Chap­ter 41: Busi­ness enter­prise and devel­op­ment
Chap­ter 42: Codes of Con­duct, Self-reg­u­la­tion and CSR
Chap­ter 43: ICC and the Envi­ron­ment
Chap­ter 44: Fight­ing com­mer­cial crime
Chap­ter 45: Chi­na re-joins the ICC
Chap­ter 46: Rein­vig­o­rat­ing ICC
C: Por­traits
Chap­ter 47: Pierre Vasseur
Chap­ter 48: Philip Reed
Chap­ter 49: Wal­ter Hill
Chap­ter 50: Moham­mad Aly Ran­goon­wala
Chap­ter 51: Bharat Ram, ICC President 

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