Under the banner of “Identity, Community, Vision,” over 1,300 delegates from around the world gathered in Turin, Italy on June 10 to attend the World Chambers Congress. The main focus of the three day event was how to strengthen small and medium enterprises (SMEs) worldwide to create jobs. Organizers focused on the need to create enabling environments for these businesses to grow and prosper – especially when it comes to youth and entrepreneurs.
“Chambers of Commerce play an increasingly important role in the global economy and are central to the International Chamber’s vision to promote trade as a driver of growth, jobs and sustainable development,” International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Chairman Terry McGraw told the delegates. “The World Chambers Congress is an essential forum to promote knowledge sharing between chambers from around the world – driving real development of public-private partnerships.”
Panelists from the event emphasized the important economic role played by smaller firms, especially in developing and emerging market countries. Rapid changes in transport, logistics, and communications have made it easier for even small and mid-sized firms to work across borders and engage with the global economy. In many countries local SMEs account for between 40 to 50 percent of export value added, largely as suppliers within global value chains — companies supplying other companies, often big multinationals. These kinds of firms often represent 80 to 90 percent of total domestic employment, noted James Bacchus, the chair of the Commission on Trade and Investment for the International Chamber of Commerce, arguing that global value chains have become a dominant feature in the world economy.
The 9th World Chambers Congress featured four plenary sessions and 25 workshops on a range of issues that included Global Trade in the 21st Century, Financing for SMEs, and Setting G20 Business Priorities that focused on the role of SMEs in economic growth and job creation, global mobility, and business networks.
Another panel of note covered Youth Entrepreneurship, which focused on how young people – especially in emerging markets — are playing an increased role in creating jobs and innovation. One of the panelists was Anna Nadgrodkiewicz, Director of Multiregional Programs for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
Louise Kantrow, the ICC’s permanent representative to the United Nations, was the moderator of a panel on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The discussion focused on how the private sector must be a major player if the new SDG framework will succeed in creating jobs. Kantrow will also be a panelist at CIPE’s SDG event in Washington, DC on July, 20.
Finally, Nadgrodkiewicz was a judge for the Best Corporate Social Responsibility project category for the 2015 World Chambers Competition, which recognizes the most successful chamber projects from around the world. Finland Chamber of Commerce was the winner for that category, while the overall winner of all categories was the Kocaeli Chamber of Industry (Turkey).
The World Chambers Congress will meet in Sydney in 2017.