The Head of the ICC Rings the Bell at the Colombo Stock Exchange 

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Markets open and close ceremoniously across the globe and Maria Fernanda Garza, the first female Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), rang the Opening Bell today to commence trading at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE). She was hosted by the team of The CSE that included Dilshan Wirasekara, Chairman, Rajeeva Bandaranaike, Chief Executive Officer and Renuke Wijayawardhane, Chief Regulatory Officer. Representing the team from The ICC Sri Lanka were Shanil Anthony Fernando the Chairman, Hemakumara Gunasekera, the Secretary, Manisha Rajanayake, the Treasurer;  J A Fernando, a  Board Member; Captain Nalin Peiris, a Board Member and other members of the team. Other dignitaries present included H.E. Badli Hisham Adam, the Malaysian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Faizal Salieh, the Chairman of the SEC.

The ICC is present in 170 countries and focuses on key global issues such as the digital economy, sustainability and climate action, global trade, integrity, and good governance. It is the only business organisation with observer status in the United Nations and celebrated its centennial in 2019. The ICC has introduced vital tools and standards over the years, such as in Banking USCP 600, DOCDEX, INCOTERMS, ICC Court of Arbitration, ATA Carnet, Model contracts & clauses, Certificates of Origin, ICC TradeNow, Discover SME360X, ICC Centre of Entrepreneurship, ICC Agri-Food Hubs. 

Speaking of her visit to Sri Lanka Ms Garza said, “I am honoured to be here today. We now live in an era where fragmentation and volatility are a norm and I know amidst this global crisis, Sri Lanka has recently experienced its most challenging period in recent times,  socially, economically and politically. As ICC I am proud to say that over the past three years, we have constantly advocated to the G20 for stronger and coordinated measures to support countries in debt and distress. And above all for practical solutions that ensure the sovereign debt crisis can be resolved swiftly and with minimal suffering to the lives and livelihoods. In this connection and despite many delays I am reassured to hear that the Sri Lankan government has made important progress in recent days in agreeing on terms to restructure its debt with key bilateral creditors. And looking into the future I hope there is an opportunity to chart a programme of domestic reforms capable of building a stronger, more resilient and inclusive economy.”

She added, “Please be assured that the ICC stands ready to work with you in pursuing this call. This will clearly be a multi-year process of reform. Still, even so, we shouldn’t forget the opportunities that exist today at a micro or pragmatic level to boost trade and small business as a driver of productivity and job creation. We see huge potential for Sri Lanka to prime its trade capacity and by doing so bring the benefit of international commerce to smaller enterprises. I would like to point out three areas in particular first would be in implementing common sense customs and trade facilitations reforms, the second would be the digitalisation of trade processes and finally, I would encourage you to reflect on the need to invest in developing local skills and capacity for international trade. We are delighted to work in Sri Lanka through our World Chambers Federation on a number of capacity-building skills related to export documentation and I hope Sri Lanka springboards to bring the wealth of expertise that ICC has to the private sector at large to deliver the skills and knowledge that companies and entrepreneurs need to enter the global market. I hope you see ICC as a vital partner in a journey that lies ahead to create a stronger and more vibrant Sri Lankan economy. I know this country’s rich human capital, heritage and business culture brings out enormous opportunity in a highly competitive global economy. Please see ICC as your business partner through this journey.” 

Shanil Anthony Ferenado, the Chairman of ICC Sri Lanka, speaking at the event said, “This is the second time that the International Chamber of Commerce has rung the bell at the CSE, the first was in celebration of the 100 years of ICC in 2019 and we are proud to have our Chair Maria Fernanda Garza ring it for the second time. We are the largest, most representative business organisation in the world, having interests spanning every sector of private enterprise. The ICC delivers solutions addressing the major shifts in the world economy. From accelerating sustainability and climate action to shaping an open, trusted and interoperable digital economy, our purpose is to enable businesses and that is what our Chair Maria is signifying at today’s event.”

He further added, “In celebration of today’s event ICC Sri Lanka, will be waving off the membership entrance fee for all companies that are listed on the CSE. This applies to companies that are not currently members of the ICC Sri Lanka. We are celebrating 100 years of the ICC International Court of Arbitration®, the world’s leading arbitral institution. Since the inception of the ICC Court in 1923, we have remained at the forefront of supporting global trade and investment through dispute prevention and resolution.”

The International Chamber of Commerce, a renowned organisation with a prominent role in shaping the global business landscape, is the only chamber officially represented at international institutions such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization (WTO), and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Maria Fernanda Garza’s visit to Sri Lanka underscores ICC’s commitment to fostering economic growth and international cooperation in the region.

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