As the torchbearer of open and inclusive trade and growth, the ICC – World Chambers Federation is spearheading measures to ensure business continuity as COVID-19 changes the world of work. Hamad Buamim, ICC – WCF chair, and president and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shares how
The world is in the midst of challenging times as COVID-19 disrupts lives, societies and businesses globally. During times of uncertainty, the priority of the ICC – World Chambers Federation is to ensure the smooth continuity of work, and to mitigate any negative impact on the business sector through open dialogue with both the public and private sectors.
As the representative of 45 million companies, one billion employees, in more than 100 countries, the ICC – WCF plays a critical part in mobilising efforts to support chambers globally. Our role is to assure chambers worldwide that we are here to support them in finding innovative solutions for business continuity. This involves fostering awareness of their function in ensuring businesses adhere to the guidelines set out by their respective governments.
Adapting to the new normal
Chambers of commerce, like businesses and governments, are experiencing new challenges and opportunities in the age of COVID-19. In recognition of the vital role that chambers of commerce play in their business communities, Dubai Chamber, with the support of ICC-WCF, has published the Chambers New Norm: Adapting Business Needs report, which sheds light on how chambers are responding to COVID-19. Through our research, we have found that chambers of commerce handled unprecedented challenges very well when it came to responding to the changing needs of their members and ensuring the continuity of value-added services.
Bringing together chamber leaders from around the world, the newly launched Chamber Connect Series aims to address global challenges – such as digital preparedness, risk assessment and resilience planning – and develop innovative solutions that can help chambers become more agile and competitive as they plan for the post-COVID–19 recovery.
Ahead of the curve
The United Arab Emirates has employed a successful strategy in gradually reopening its economy, while implementing strict health and safety measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Analysis of global pandemic data conducted by the Deep Knowledge Group, a consortium of commercial and non-profit organisations, placed the UAE among the top five countries for testing and within the top 10 for treatment efficiency, which is judged on a country’s ability to monitor the spread of the virus, treat patients, and develop, test and deploy potential vaccines and treatments.
Beyond its borders, the UAE has launched an international ‘air bridge’ in partnership with the UN World Food Programme, designed to deliver essential health and humanitarian supplies to nations in need. The partnership will supply items to more than 100 countries in the months ahead.
Closer to home, the UAE responded swiftly to unprecedented changes in the world of work. Dubai Chamber succeeded in turning new challenges created by the pandemic into opportunities as it shifted 98% of its core services to smart channels. The Chamber’s investment in digital transformation in recent years enabled it to serve the business community under unprecedented circumstances and meet the changing needs of Dubai businesses. Currently, 50 e-services are provided through the Chambers website and smart applications, covering certificates of origin, membership, attestation, ATA Carnets, legal inquiries, smart mediation, credit rating and CSR Label, among many others.
Our role as the voice of business is to encourage companies to take responsibility in supporting the government in fighting this virus. This involves implementing preventive and precautionary measures to counter the spread of COVID-19 domestically and around the world. In the UAE, our advanced technological infrastructure has enabled business to get back on track within a relatively short timeframe.
In support of PPPs
Internationally, Dubai Chamber is working closely with the authorities in the 10 countries in which it has a presence to implement global best practice, minimise the risk of transmission and ensure business continuity with stakeholders.
Dubai Chamber remains committed to activating public-private-sector partnerships during this time to respond to global challenges. In the early stages of the outbreak, the Chamber’s swift response in fostering constructive dialogue and cooperation among public- and private-sector stakeholders was crucial as it paved the way for new economic stimulus packages and additional measures that have improved ease of doing business in Dubai.
Throughout this transitional period, the Chamber has kept our members and the wider business community informed of the latest government issued guidelines and important economic developments, while it has launched new initiatives to help businesses deal with the impact of the pandemic.
As the voice of the business community, the Chamber continues to advocate on behalf of companies in various sectors, communicate their concerns to relevant government entities with the aim of ensuring business continuity and enhancing economic competitiveness.
Combined, these measures communicate a strong message to the private sector: we stand by the interests of investors – and will work to grow their investments, provide a secure environment conducive to growth, and remain alongside them in the face of global challenges.
Let us be optimistic about the future. Let us take this opportunity to thank our courageous and dedicated health professionals. Let us look out for one another. By pulling together and proceeding with unity, we will emerge stronger.