Economy: a look back at the 13th World Congress of Chambers of Commerce hosted by Switzerland

Economy: a look back at the 13th World Congress of Chambers of Commerce hosted by Switzerland

The World Congress of Chambers of Commerce is a key event in the economic sphere for many of the participating countries. Held every two years, the event is hosted by a different continent each time. This year, Switzerland hosted the event for the first time, bringing together a number of key players in the sector.

The 13th edition of the Congress was held in Geneva over three days, from 21 to 23 June 2023. As the host country's authorised body, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIG) was responsible for coordinating the organisation of the Congress with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Chambers Federation (WCF).

Several discussions brought together business leaders and all the economic players from the participating countries. In this article, we take a look back at the highlights of the Congress and the key points to remember.

1. A plethora of delegates from 130 countries

This year's World Chambers Congress brought together a wide range of players at the Cité Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21 to 23 June 2023. Once again, several countries were represented by key economic players and political leaders directly involved in optimising their country's economic and commercial sector.

This year, more than 1,500 players were registered in Geneva. Among them were company directors, opinion leaders, high-ranking politicians and other technical players and specialists in commercial and economic issues.

Particularly in Switzerland, this congress gave national SMEs from all over the Vaud, Lausanne and French-speaking parts of the country the opportunity to take centre stage. Likewise, international SMEs were not left out of the spotlight during the conference, whose theme justified the relevance of the discussions held during the event.

2. The striking theme of the World Chambers Congress

The 13th World Congress of Chambers of Commerce, held in Geneva, brought together delegates around a compelling theme. Under the banner of "multilateralism at the service of peace and prosperity", representatives from the 130 participating countries discussed the issues in the sessions. Some forty sessions, workshops and conferences were led by 120 speakers.

Throughout the Congress, this theme was at the heart of the debates. Participants reflected on current trends in the economic and commercial sector. They also discussed the current and future global challenges facing Chambers of Commerce and businesses. It should be noted that the main theme of this congress was broken down into different sub-themes, namely:

  • Multilateralism
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability.

These themes provided the framework for the general discussions at the conference. The President of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Maria Fernanda Garza, said that "multilateralism is not an option". She went on to say that justice, integrity and respect for the rule of law are essential if businesses are to develop and remain competitive.

3. The Geneva Manifesto signed at the start of the Congress

On Wednesday 21 June 2023 in Geneva, delegates witnessed a high point in the 13th edition of the Congress. Through the signing of the Geneva Manifesto, the economic players intend to provide a solution to a sector in crisis and full of doubts given the tensions and geopolitical considerations that have undermined multilateral cooperation in recent years.

The document was signed jointly by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the World Chambers Federation (WCF), and of course the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIG), host of the Congress. The signatories have made a strong appeal to economic players through this gesture. It is a sign of their commitment to do more to "make a difference in the real economy, to build a modern system that drives economic inclusion, global cooperation and sustainable development."

In essence, the Geneva Manifesto highlights the new colours of the business community in the face of the increasing fragmentation of the global economy. The document also underlines the signatories' concern about cross-border and geopolitical issues, and all the implications relating to climate change and international finance.

4. The strategic choice of Geneva and its economic implications

Geneva was chosen as the venue for this conference because the strong message of the Manifesto, which was adopted at a time of geopolitical tension around the world, would resonate well. This Swiss city is known for its tolerance of multilateralism. Historically, it is the world capital of peace, and for this reason the various leaders of the Chambers have called on all governments to make a greater commitment to peaceful, multilateral and sustainable cooperation that respects the sovereignty of each State and international law.

Switzerland and all its cantons and districts benefited from the World Chambers Congress, with a number of the country's SMEs showcased during the event. Business leaders were able to draw inspiration from the various sessions to make new resolutions in line with the themes addressed. The business programme also enabled participants to discover Geneva through exclusive visits.