This Week in Review

The International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) has just registered its 20,000th case. Simultaneously, the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC is set to administer inaugural ICC arbitrations in New York City. Case number 20,000 was a transport-sector dispute initiated by a U.S. claimant against a Canadian respondent. The arbitration is seated in Chicago, Illinois and applies the laws of the State of New York.

After more than nine years of negotiations, WTO members finally reached consensus on a Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013, as part of a wider “Bali Package.” The final agreement contains provisions for faster and more efficient customs procedures through effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area. The agreement mandated a newly established Preparatory Committee to ensure the expeditious entry into force of the agreement and to prepare for its efficient operation.

The Energy Charter Treaty (“ECT”) was signed in Lisbon in 1994. As of 2014, fifty-two states have signed or acceded to the ECT. To mark the twenty-year anniversary of the signing of the ECT, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”), the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (“SCC”), and the Energy Charter Secretariat (“ECS”) are organizing a conference of experts to discuss and reflect on the implementation of the ECT and to contemplate future developments under this instrument. The conference will be held in Paris on March 7, 2014.

The evolving information, communication, and technology (“ICT”) landscape is offering women entrepreneurs new opportunities to strengthen their businesses. Through mobile phones, electronic platforms and networks, radio, television, blogs, and the Internet, women entrepreneurs are reaching out to customers and building their businesses in ways they previously could not. Effective use of ICTs is now helping to overcome several challenges that women entrepreneurs face. At the same time, there is evidence of a “gender digital divide” wherein women entrepreneurs—due to lack of literacy, skills, access, resources and other factors—are excluded from the opportunities and benefits ICTs offer.

President Obama welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House on Friday morning, provoking a sharp rebuke from the Chinese government, which warned that the meeting would severely damage relations between Washington and Beijing. But this time, in contrast to previous meetings, the White House seemed unruffled by the diplomatic repercussions of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit, which comes as the United States is taking a firmer line with China on a range of territorial disputes with its neighbors.