Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 19:05:01 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
From: erik226 <email@example.com>
Subject: Corporate lobbying by the International Chamber of Commerce
A few days ago I discovered the Website of the International Chamber of Commerce, a very powerful transnational business organisation which is actively trying to influence state governments (and according to some material on their Web site with success). [http://www1.usa1.com/~ibnet]
Take these quotes from a lecture on the ICC which was delivered in Paris, October 26, 1994 [unluckily the name of the lecturer is not given]
One thing should be understood about the ICC right from the start. Our organisation is much more than a chamber of commerce, and indeed there are those who consider that its name is misleading. The ICC might perhaps be more accurately described as the world business organisation, and you will notice that we use this subtitle as part of our logo.
Governments everywhere, and international organisations both within and outside the UN family, recognise the ICC as the authentic voice of world business.
These credentials, unmatched by any other organisation, give the ICC access to governments at the highest level. For example, each year, on the eve of thesummit of the Group of Seven leading industrial countries, an ICC delegation calls on the host government leader to present proposals on behalf of international business, for consideration at the summit.
But the ICC's role in putting across the business view to governments is not confined to the great international economic issues of the day. At the very heart of the ICC is the work of its technical commissions, one of whose tasks it is to track legislative and regulatory proposals, both national and international, to make suggestions for modifications or improvements, and to make sure that governments appreciate the business viewpoint on a host of specialised issues.
To take a recent example, the ICC played a pivotal role in enabling business to speak with one voice at inter-government environmental negotiations in August, whose final outcome will affect business operations throughout the world.
The occasion was the tenth session of the international negotiating committee which is fleshing out the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Besides making a statement reflecting business views, the ICC delegation developed contacts with key government representatives, and suggested forms of wording for disputed paragraphs.
This was a vital task because the committee has to prepare for a conference of the parties to implement the Rio convention, which is scheduled to start in Berlin next March. The 16-member ICC delegation played a considerable role in ensuring that business views are clearly understood by governments before legislation takes its final form. I have mentioned the Geneva intiative in some detail, because it is an excellent example of effective lobbying by the ICC, directed in this case by our Environment Commission. A related example is this commission's work within the International Organisation for Standardisation on an international standard for environmental management systems.
Or this example from the ICC's Annual Report over 1994:
- The birth of the World Trade Organisation was for the ICC the culmination of seven years of pressure on governments for succesful conclusion of the Uruguay Round multilateral trade negotiations. The ICC focused on securing ratification of the GATT agreement in time for the WTO to start on schedule at the beginning of 1995. The need for early ratification was the priority item on the ICC Presidency's statement to the Group of Seven summit in Naples.
Ratification before the end of 1994 was at the top of the ICC's list of recommendations to the governments of the Group of Seven industrial nations, which were handed over to Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi in Rome on June 28.
Addressed to leaders of the G7 nations who attended the Naples summit, the ICC statement appealed to them to reject the use of trade measures with protectionist effects in pursuance of higher environmental and labour standards.
A key passage expressed the ICC's conviction that workers' rights and interests can best be advanced by economic development based on the full participation of all countries in the multilateral trade and investment system.
Apparently the ICC feels very powerful at the moment, otherwise they wouldn't be boasting so openly about their achievements. It is clear that these kind of practices are very undemocratic and form an abuse of corporate power.
With this power of transnational capital still increasing it is of utmost importance that we form a world wide citizens alliance claiming back our legal democratic rights to determine the future of our world. If we leave it in the hands of business-lobbies like the ICC, life on this earth will slowly die.
If you have more information on lobbying by organisations like the IGC or if you are interested to cooperate on this issue, please contact
A SEED Europe
PO Box 92066
1090 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
As a last example I include the following press release from last July:
+++ ICC Press Release : 664/876 E
"The World Business Organization"
Press Release 664/876 E
World business plea to US President on Alaska North Slope oil shipments
Paris, July 28, 1995 -- The International Chamber of Commerce has appealed to President Clinton not to allow the United States to "sully its record" as a proponent of free trade by restricting Alaska North Slope oil exports to US flag vessels.
ICC Secretary General Jean-Charles Rouher wrote to the president urging him "to oppose vigorously" the cargo reservation provision in legislation now before Congress.
The letter said that, if enacted, the legislation would introduce a new measure of restriction to long-established and internationally acknowledged trading freedoms.
Mr Rouher pointed out that the United States has never before passed legislation reserving privately owned commercial cargoes in international trade to its national flag fleet.
He said such a move would violate bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and treaties to which the US is a party, including a standstill provision in the 1994 General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which formed part of the Uruguay Round.
Cargo reservation as proposed to Congress would violate more than 40 treaties currently in force between the US and its trading partners, the ICC Secretary General pointed out. He said these treaties typically provided for national treatment for the vessels of each party "with respect to the right to carry all cargo that may be carried by vessel to or from each other's territory".
The letter concluded: "The ICC believes that it would be both regrettable and ill-advised if the United States should sully its record as a leading proponent of free trade and open access to markets by enacting legislation containing a cargo preference requirement."
The ICC serves world business by promoting trade and investment and the free market system. It has more than 7,000 member companies and business associations in more than 140 countries.
For the full text of the letter to President Clinton please contact Christiaan Van der Valk at: Tel: +33 1 49 53 29 13 - Fax +33 1 49 53 28 59
N.B. My suspicions about the motives of this plea are aroused by a passage in the ICC Annual report over 1994:
Representations on US Oil Pollution ACT
Reiterating the international maritime industry's fundamental objections to the unilateral character of the US Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990, the commission wrote to the US Coast Guard expressing concern about the rule on certificates of financial responsibility (COFR), a particularly controversial instrument under the Act.
The rule provides that tankers without a financial guarantee to cover the vastly extended liability for oil spills under OPA 1990 would not be allowed to transport oil as cargo in United States waters.
Providers of the traditional Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Club insurance stated from the beginning that they could not issue such financial guarantees. While the market soon provided alternatives, the ICC warned that none had been sufficiently tested for them to be brought to the market safely before the deadline set of December 28, 1994.
If you can tell me more about this case, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org