The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has launched a new Legal Reform Advisory Board (LRAB) to support the legal harmonisation efforts of the ICC Digital Standards Initiative (DSI).

In a press statement, the ICC said the move is part of its drive to promote inclusion and create opportunity for all parties involved in international supply chains.

The ICC launched the DSI in 2020 in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Singaporea, with the goal of establishing a globally harmonised and digitalised environment for trade.

Steven Beck, head of trade and supply chain finance at ADB and member of the DSI Governance Board, said that reform is needed, and that the LRAB will help the ICC and its partners drive real changes.

“Digitalisation is key to narrowing the $1.7 trillion trade finance gap, but we can’t get there without an enabling legal environment,” he said. “The LRAB will help us scale existing efforts.”

The ICC said that the LRAB will work under the auspices of the DSI Governance Board, and will comprise 30 leaders from across all geographies who share the belief that a globally harmonised legal environment is foundational to making digitalised trade a reality.

The board will be seeking to scale up legal reforms worldwide, and its members will include the ADB, the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT), The Commonwealth, ICC France, ICC Germany, ICC Mexico, the International Trade and Forfaiting Association (ITFA), and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

As such, the board will work alongside the DSI Industry Advisory Board, which advocates for adoption of harmonised digital standards across international supply chains.

Raoul Renard, deputy director of legal reform at DSI, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic massively accelerated digital transformation across a range of sectors, but outdated legal frameworks continue to inhibit the digitalisation of trade finance.

“I look forward to working with our co-chairs and LRAB members – such as the ADB – to enable necessary legal reform and bring trade finance into the 21st Century.”

The new advisory board – appointed on a rolling basis, and starting this week – is chaired by ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO, and is co-chaired by Chris Southworth, secretary general of ICC UK, and Valentina Mintah, customs and logistics expert and member of the ICC Executive Board.

“Digitising the trade ecosystem will make trade faster, cheaper, more secure, and better for the environment,” said Southworth.

“We have made enormous progress on legal harmonisation over the last two years, and the LRAB will play a vital role in helping us scale legal reforms and provide more support to low-income countries where more capacity building is needed.”