This year’s International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Banking Commission Technical Meeting was held for the first time in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Taking place on 15-17 October, the ICC Banking Commission’s 2018 Technical Meeting gathering over 200 trade finance experts from 50 countries—as well as high-level attendees such as Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze—to discuss the major issues currently affecting the global trade finance industry.
The plenary meeting focused on key topics surrounding transformation and collaboration in the trade finance sector. Georgia, with its thriving export-based economy and wealth of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), proved an ideal choice for this year’s forum – a prime example showcasing the benefits of open and international trade.
At the forefront of discussions was the topic of digitalisation, with increased interest in the development and implementation of digital processes and solutions within the global trade finance sector.
Here are five key highlights from the day:
1. Georgia’s role as a technology hub
With this year’s Technical Meeting held in Tbilisi, the success of Georgia’s trade finance sector was naturally a hot topic. Indeed, the country’s economy, driven by its banking sector, has established itself as one of the fastest growing in Central and Eastern Europe over the last quarter of a century.
With increasing interest in the digitalisation of global trade finance, Vincent O’Brien, member of the ICC Banking Commission Executive Committee, and Vlad Radysh, Government Relations Director for the CIS Region at Bitfury Georgia, discussed the growing role of Georgia as a technology hub and how the country is evolving in the new digital era.
2. Launch of the ICC Digital Road Map
The various work streams gathered to present to members updates on their work and projects to date. One standout stream was the Digitalisation Working Group. Established last year, the Group works to both ensure that trade finance rules are ‘e-compatible’ and establish a set of standards to enable digital connectivity for trade finance service providers.
Chris Southworth, Secretary General of ICC United Kingdom, announced the launch of the ICC Digital Roadmap project – one stream of the Digitalisation Working Group. The project is in line with the group’s 2020 strategy to help identify and support innovation and standardisation of rules for digital trade finance. It was stressed that the Roadmap is not a static document but will be continuously adapted in light of rapidly-evolving trends and contributions from industry and public sector experts.
3. Survey report on the legal status of electronic bills of lading
With growing digitalisation of the trade finance sector, the move towards electronic bills of lading (eB/Ls), which have traditionally been presented in paper form, will help reduce costs and increase efficiency.
ICC, alongside global law firm Clyde & Co, has launched a report on the legal status of eB/Ls to consider whether the law can keep pace with the technology that is rapidly developing in the international trade sector. Stephen Tricks, a Consultant at Clyde & Co LLP, delved into the topic, presenting members with a powerful report on the legal status of eB/Ls in a range of countries and outlining potential courses of action.
4. E-compatibility of ICC rules
Ensuring that ICC rules – which underpin over US$1 trillion of transactions each year – remain relevant in the digital age is a crucial task for members of the Banking Commission. Expansion into new markets and the proliferation of new, digital processes are just a few of the transformations underway in the global trade finance sector and ICC rules must be updated and revised accordingly to ensure their applicability.
In turn, Dave Meynell, Senior Technical Advisor at the Banking Commission and Owner of TradeLC Advisory, and David Hennah, Global Head of Trade and Supply Chain Finance at Finastra, presented members with an update on the revision of the ICC rules eUCP, eURc and URBPO.
5. ICC Rules for Experts
This year’s Technical Meeting dedicated the afternoon to the Official Opinions – a staple of each Banking Commission gathering. Widely cited by judges and practitioners when resolving disputes, the Official Opinions are the ICC Banking Commission-approved interpretation of how ICC rules are to be adhered to by members. Opinions are based on questions submitted by ICC representative offices, known as national committees.
Responding to these questions represents an important task for the Banking Commission. In turn, the Technical Advisory Team presented its draft opinions, for review by the national committees, after which the Official Opinions were consolidated and agreed upon.
The ICC Banking Commission meeting was made possible thanks to the generous and ongoing support of its sponsors: African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Bank of Georgia, BasisBank (BB), Bitfury, Cartu Bank, Deutsche Bank, Finastra, IDB Invest, Liberty Bank, PASHA Bank, Surecomp and Commerzbank.