Honorary degree recipient Maria Cattaui champions role of world business

Independent, self-regulating international business organizations, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, are playing and should continue to play a leading role in drafting and revising international trade rules, suggested Maria Livanos Cattaui, in her speech Friday, Oct. 20, to business graduates at York’s first of three fall convocation ceremonies.

Left: Maria Livanos Cattaui

Cattaui addressed the graduates of the Joint Kellogg-Schulich Executive Master of Business Administration Program after receiving an honorary degree.

The distinguished international corporate leader was honoured for her contributions to international business and public policy. She was secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) from July 1996 to June 2005, where she championed the global economy as a force for economic growth, job creation and prosperity. She was previously managing director of the World Economic Forum from 1977 to 1996, where the success of the annual Davos Forum is credited in large part to her strategic planning, diplomacy and understanding of global issues. Cattaui has been a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Schulich School of Business since 1997, providing the school with invaluable counsel in its push to become a global business school.

In her acceptance speech, Cattaui said private formulating agencies, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, can resolve problems that transcend territorial boundaries and should play a role in regulation of the global economy. She cited two sets of internationally recognized practices formulated and frequently updated by such private-sector organizations: the Uniform Customs and Practices, the rules governing credit transfers; and Inco, the standard trade definitions most commonly used in international contracts. Such rules and regulations, adhered to around the world, are neutral, contractual, flexible and user-friendly, she said. They are updated by formulating agencies in a very democratic, consultative process that “guarantees a perfect adequacy to the needs of all parties involved in international trade” and is faster and more efficient than if done by governments and other public authorities.

She concluded with a message to the business community: “The acceleration of new business practices and the entry of new voices in rule-setting means that we need much, much stronger alliances between old and new formulating agencies, including governments and businesses, to make sure that what we do remains useful, relevant, appropriate, global and complementary.”

To hear Cattaui’s entire speech, visit York’s Convocation Web page.