More than 300 participants in assembled in Beijing for the autumn meeting of ICC's Banking Commission. This was one of the largest Commission meetings ever held and the first to be held in the capital of the PRC. It also marked a major expansion in the Commission's work program.

Of course the traditional issues were still on the agenda. One of these was an update on the revision of the ISBP, an ongoing project which will result in a larger and more comprehensive ISBP, covering a number of topics - such as inspection certificates, analysis certificates and phyto sanitary certificates - not covered before. The ISBP Drafting Group, led by Gary Collyer, has been working steadily for many months to bring this revision to completion in the not distant future.

Another traditional item, the URDG revision, was still on the agenda. Although the revised rules came into effect some months ago, their impact continues to be assessed, as Georges Affaki does in The Insight interview on the following page.

Among the relatively new items, there were discussions about the Commissioin's Register on Trade and Finance, initially set up as a pilot study with the Asian Development Bank to provide information on banks' losses in trade finance to the Basel Committee, but which aims to become a permanent program to provide banks with more precise data in the field. Eventually, the Register will be open to any bank that wishes to participate.

In addition, the Commission is working on anti-money laundering issues and on continuing the annual Global Survey on Trade and Finance, which was well received by the World Trade Organization.

But perhaps the most striking development in Beijing was a basic restructuring of the Commission to handle all of its various projects. In the process, trade finance will continue to be the Commission's dominant domain of expertise. But the Commission also plans to leverage that role to become the foremost corporate banking industry group and an effective policy advocacy body and provider of leading market intelligence.

To accommodate these changes, the Commission will structure its strategy around the following service lines, each headed by a Commission Vice-Chairman:

- Traditional Trade Services

This will include the traditional rulemaking activities of the Banking Commission, in particular UCP, URDG, Collections, ISBP, Standbys, Opinions, DOCDEX.

- Open Account & Supply Chain Financing

This line will include projects related to the global supply chain financing, in particular the Bank Payment Obligation (BPO) project, and the drafting of guidelines in the fields of open account, factoring and forfaiting.

- Global Regulatory

This will deal with the relationship with, or projects linked to, the work of international organizations capable of making overarching recommendations concerning key regulations.

- Legal & Compliance

This service line will act as a general forum for member banks' legal and compliance departments in discussing topics of interest.

- Risk & Asset Management

Credit insurance, assignments, standardization of credit documents, ECAs/MDBs.

By any standard, this is an ambitious program, one that takes account of the shifting demands of trade finance and the complexities of the banking sector during a period of crisis

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Banking Commission, and to celebrate it, members were gifted with a commemorative book, celebrating its accomplishments over the last eight decades. Among the highlights were the approval of the first UCP (No. 82) in 1933; the first Standard Forms for Issuing Documentary Credits in 1951; the 1962 revision of the UCP, which was the catalyst for worldwide acceptance of the rules; the restricting of the transport articles in UCP 500; the approval of the first URDG in 1991; the adoption of the eUCP in 2002; the advent of the first ISBP in 2003; and of course the approval of UCP 600 in 2006.