International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

Chambers of Commerce exist in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. At one end there are small associations of traders in a single shopping area through those which represent the commerce and industry of a town, city or region up to National Chambers which speak for an entire country. As their name implies, they are groupings of traders, manufacturers and merchants some of whom may be in direct competition one with another but who come together to deal with problems affecting all of them. Many of their activities have no discernible impact upon shipping but some of them most certainly do. An example is that their independence and integrity are sufficient for their validation of, say, a Certificate of Origin being an acceptable document either in its own right or as a prerequisite before such a document receiving a visa from a consulate. In some countries, businesses must by law be registered with their local or regional Chamber of Commerce. Others are given the responsibility for conducting commercial auctions and other market activities, thus making them into influential and powerful bodies. They may also be involved in commercial arbitrations or provide references for local companies and trade contacts for national or international purposes. Where they have had a significant influence in international trade is through their having formed the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). In the same way as national shipping associations have benefited from the formation of an international body, the International Chamber of Commerce has more than made its mark by its publication of such handbooks as “Incoterms”, an internationally agreed glossary of terms used in international trade. Similarly their “Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits” (otherwise known as UCP) has proved to be of great benefit in this vital aspect of international trade. These are only examples of the many areas where the ICC has proved of immense value. In the field of shipping business, The International Chamber of Commerce sponsored both the International Maritime Bureau (see below), which is concerned principally with Maritime Fraud, and the Centre for Maritime Co-operation (also based in London) to encourage an open market approach to maritime developments and to foster maritime joint ventures. All students of Shipping Business should have access at the very least to the ICC’s INCOTERMS book, which can be ordered from the Chamber’s headquarters in Paris or through National Chambers of Commerce. Alternatively, all its publications may be seen on the ICC website at www.iccwbo.org.