Category Archives: Meetings

GGI Latin American & Iberian Regional Conference and GGI EasyMeet in Madrid, Spain, 23–26 June 2016

Madrid

GGI member firm Ficesa Treuhand, S.A.P. will kindly host the first GGI Latin American Regional Conference to be held in Europe, concurrently with the GGI EasyMeet. Both events will be held on the same weekend at the InterContinental Hotel Madrid. The Latin American Regional Conference is designed for GGI members from the region, as well as those interested in doing business in Latin American countries. All major parts of the conference will be translated from Spanish into English and vice versa.

The EasyMeet programme is relevant to the rising leaders within the firm. Juniors and associates who do not usually attend GGI’s international and regional conferences can get together and meet with their peers from all around the world in a fruitful, unique and amiable environment. The EasyMeet begins on 24 June. Please note this will be the only European EasyMeet this year!

The two events will offer some joint sessions, such as meals and sightseeing events – a perfect networking opportunity! This will enable all participants to build connections with their fellow GGI members as well as to learn and benefit from each other’s experience.

It has been confirmed that Benita Ferrero-Waldner will deliver a keynote speech during the Latin American & Iberian Regional Conference. Ferrero-Waldner is an Austrian diplomat, politician and member of the conservative Austrian People’s Party. She has previously served as the Foreign Minister of Austria, the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, and as the European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy.

Inspiring Practice Group meetings and fascinating lectures will mean you leave well-informed. It is also an opportunity to stay connected with fellow GGI members and exchange ideas, experiences and the latest news and developments from your business with your international colleagues.

Do not miss out on this promising European experience. From sprawling museums to traditional restaurants and bars, wonderful squares and beautiful parks: a single weekend will surely not suffice to see and experience everything this vibrant city has to offer!

For those arriving earlier, on Thursday 23 June a day trip to the World Heritage City of Segoviahas been organised. Participants will find a magical city of warm terracotta and sandstone hues set amid the rolling hills of Castilla, against the backdrop of the Sierra de Guadarrama. Walt Disney is said to have modelled Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland California on Segovia’s Alcázar.

Delegates’ guests can join a day trip to the beautiful World Heritage City of Toledo on Friday 24 June. Located atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, it was known as the “city of three cultures” in the Middle Ages, a place where – legend has it – Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities peacefully coexisted. Horseshoe-arched mosques, Sephardic synagogues and one of Spain’s finest Gothic cathedrals are all to be found in the city’s dense historical core.

Toledo also has something to offer art lovers, in particular the haunting canvases of El Greco, the influential, ambiguous painter with whom the city has come to be synonymous.

On the Saturday afternoon, delegates to register to join a VIP guided tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid, including some normally off-limits areas.

Conference delegates can enjoy a tour of Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (the home of Real Madrid) on Saturday evening, prior to attending dinner at the “Puerta 57” restaurant, which is located in the Stadium itself.

If you still have time on Sunday, you can join a trip to the chic Las Rozas Village shopping outlet, which is famous for quality and attention to detail. More than a hundred of fashion retailers have shops there – enjoy special VIP treatment, a personal shopper if required and discounts of up to 60%.

GGI members who are yet to register may still do so. Please use the online registration tool at http://www.ggi.com (Member Login/Events). The detailed programme for the conference is also available here. We look forward to welcoming many of you to Madrid.

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GGI ITPG Winter Meeting in Barcelona, Spain, 25–28 February 2016

ITPG Winter Meeting

By Oliver Biernat

ITPG winter meetings are always special. In addition to the inspiring lectures of professional international tax experts, delegates always enjoy amazing locations, perfect seated accommodation and delicious food. The winter meeting is, in principle, much more than a technical exchange of knowledge; it represents a meeting for friendships cultivated and maintained over months and years. Delegates came to the winter meeting 2016 from all over the world – including many European countries as well as the USA, Canada, India, Mexico and South Africa. This cosmopolitan atmosphere of friendship and special spirit encouraged creativity. More on that to follow…

This year’s meeting took place in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – Barcelona. A total of 64 delegates and their 15 guests stayed at the Gallery Hotel, centrally situated close to the gothic heart of the city. It is surrounded by major shopping streets and is near to several must-see landmarks, such as Gaudi’s La Pedrera and the famouslyincomplete Sagrada Familia basilica. Some of the delegates, who had arrived early on Thursday morning, spent the day on a hop-on-hop-off bus and were able to form a first impression of this vibrant city.

Starting with a welcome event at the hotel bar on Thursday evening, old friends were able to catch up and new acquaintances were made. Along with his wife, this year’s host Carlos Frühbeck of Ficesa Treuhand, S.A.P, which is situated just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, offered us a first impression of the delicious local Catalan cuisine: various tapas dishes, traditionall paella and the fantastic crema catalana, accompanied by local wine.

Friday morning started with words of welcome from me as global ITPG chairman, our host Carlos Frühbeck and GGI Founder and President Claudio Cocca, who gave a short review of the past twenty years and recalled the third GGI conference that took place in 1995 in exactly the same hotel in Barcelona. This year’s meeting had double the number of delegates in comparison with the 1995 edition – what a success story for both GGI and ITPG.

Before the technical part of the meeting started, I presented some topics related to the ITPG.

The technical part started with a presentation concerning the question of how GGI firms can work together on cross border self-disclosure cases (Paul Malin). Ashish Bairagra presented a case study on an international Transfer Pricing (TP) case. After a short overview on the background and the possible TP methods, groups of six members each were formed and given 30 minutes to work on the study, name a speaker and showcase their results. The feedback of the delegates on this workshop was overwhelmingly positive and satisfied their wish for interactivity in small groups.

Before lunch, the venue and host of the ITPG winter meeting 2017 were announced: GGI member Mario Kapp will welcome us to the beautiful Austrian ski resort of Schladming during the first weekend in March 2017. The Special Olympics World Winter Games are to take place here during the same month. In addition to discussing a myriad of tax topics, we will have the opportunity to network and enjoy ourselves on the slopes or during other activities such as visiting a glacier palace, ice skating or riding in a horse-drawn sleigh. A special event will be organised where delegates can enjoy typical Austrian hospitality and “Hüttengaudi” in a mountain hut 1,800 metres above sea level.

In the afternoon, Prof. Robert Anthony successfully introduced a new format of speed-networking. A long day of presentations, lectures and activities was closed by the practice group meetings of the “Indirect Taxes” (Steve McCrindle) and “Global Mobility Solutions” (Huub Kapel) PGs, the latter including a panel discussion on expat tax regimes in Spain (Carlos Frühbeck), France (Viviane Moro) and Italy (Matteo Bedogna).

We enjoyed another delicious dinner at the historic “Els Quatre Gats” (The Four Cats). Lots of delicious tapas, lamb, fish, fabulous desserts and great Catalan wines were on offer. For those who still weren’t tired after dinner, there were plenty of bars and night clubs offering the chance to cement friendships, have some more drinks and a little dance.

On Saturday morning, Artur Plutowski started with a cross ITPG survey on CFC regulations. Robert Worthington continued with an update on BEPS Action Plan no. 2 “Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements” and Marios Eliades and Christos Theophilou updated the participants on recent tax changes in Cyprus that make it an attractive location for headquarters, IP companies and funds. Massimiliano Russo presented the newly introduced Patent Box Tax Regime in Italy.

The main topic for the Saturday was applicable to anyone running a business: “Online Marketing for tax experts”, presented by Paul Atkinson, Marketing Manager at Lawrence Grant, UK. In his presentation Paul gave us an impressive overview about what to consider in terms of webpage management. This included which tools to use to optimise your Google ranking, how to deal with social media, how important a company logo is and what you have to do to get your webpage noticed. In line with the delegates’ wish for more interactivity, Paul formed several groups and asked them to set up a marketing strategy on “How to sell ice to the Eskimos”. The presentations afterwards revealed the incredible creativity of the groups. The dancing polar bear “Claudio” who sold “GGIce” will surely remain unforgettable.

Due to a rain shower on Saturday afternoon, the participants could choose between a guided tour on foot through the Barri Gòtic (the city’s Gothic Quarter) or a guided tour inside Gaudi’s striking Sagrada Familia.

Dinner on Saturday evening was at the nearby restaurant Tragaluz. Once again, this will go down as a culinary highlight. A fairly large part of the group continued networking in the Mojito Club until the early morning hours on Sunday.

A small group went on an excursion on Sunday to bodega “Alella”, 20km outside Barcelona. A tour through the wine cellar was followed by a wine tasting session and a delicious lunch.

Thanks again to our friend Carlos Frühbeck and his wife Ines for perfectly hosting this weekend in beautiful Barcelona, to all delegates who shared their knowledge with us and to all participants who made these days so special.

 

GGI member firm

Benefitax GmbH

Advisory, Auditing & Accounting, Corporate Finance, Fiduciary & Estate Planning, Tax

Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Oliver Biernat

E: o.biernat@benefitax.de

W: http://www.benefitax.com/

 

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GGI NZ Business Summit, Auckland, New Zealand, 10-12 March 2016

GGI NZ Business SUmmit

On Thursday the 10th March, we welcomed GGI members to Auckland, New Zealand for the 2016 GGI NZ Business Summit.

The Australian and New Zealand GGI member firms have been connecting annually to strengthen the connections in this closely aligned region. This Business Summit was an opportunity to come together again and explore further how to assist one another’s firms and also to extend the invitation to the wider GGI neighbourhood.

In traditional GGI style, the conference teed off with a round of golf. The Muriwai golf course is situated on the rugged west coast of Auckland and has magnificent coastal views over the black sand beach. Those who were not interested in golf visited the Muriwai gannet colony where they were able to view from above, the last 300 or so nesting birds with their adolescents, before they also departed for their long flight to Australia. The west coast was at its best, in full sun with a prevailing westerly sea breeze keeping the temperature pleasant.

In the evening, an extended group of GGI member firms and their staff and companions enjoyed a cocktail function in the Bellini Bar of the Hilton Hotel. The hotel is located on a wharf jutting out over the Auckland harbour affording the Bellini Bar views of the working harbour with ferries, water taxis and cruise ships coming and going all evening. Matt Donaldson (Walker Davey) opened the event and thanked the guests for travelling to this corner of the world and investing time and goodwill into these important relationships. The evening ended with an unplanned dinner at Wildfire Restaurant for those who had the energy and the appetites to keep going.

Friday morning dawned with threatening rain clouds chasing the ferry all the way to Waiheke Island. The rain caught up just as the group were disembarking from the bus at Cable Bay Vineyards. The business sessions at the vineyard were opened by Mike Bowden (BVO) and began with Peter Kaeser (GGI) who needed no introduction. Peter brought the 30 members up to date on the Geneva Capital Group. Mr Phil Ahern (Morrison Kent) then facilitated a group discussion with the aim of arriving at agreed business development objectives and actions. Finally, the guest speaker, Mr Dylan Lawrence, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), spoke on the current state of the trade relationship between Australia and New Zealand and the role NZTE plays in assisting this market place.

With the business done, the group and their companions were given a guided sampling of the Cable Bay wines in the tasting room overlooking the vats. During the morning the clouds lifted and the Cable Bay dining room once again had sea views across the harbour to Auckland city in the distance. Lunch was followed by a bus tour of Waiheke Island with vistas around every corner. The unfortunate guide valiantly battled to share his knowledge of the area but was drowned out by the general chatter of the group as they shared ideas and experiences.

The closing event of the conference took the group up the Sky Tower, the tallest building in Auckland, to The Sugar Club restaurant. Here, while dining at one of Auckland’s signature restaurants and watching the sun set over the city and the Waitakere Ranges, the group reflected on the day and the learnings and contemplated future opportunities.

The GGI NZ Business Summit broadened the understanding of the depth of expertise available within the GGI alliance and honed the thinking on how to build trust for mutual benefit. There was an excellent spirit and it is the hope of the delegates that future Australasian conferences will be honoured by attendance from more of their neighbours so the warmth and hospitality can be extended further.

 

GGI member firm

Morrison Kent

Law Firm

Auckland, Wellington, New Zealand

Rachel Holland

E: rachel.holland@morrisonkent.co.nz

W: http://www.morrisonkent.com

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Italian Business Summit, Verona, Italy, 27-29 May 2016

Italian Business Summit

GGI and GGI member firm SLT Strategy Legal Tax kindly invite all GGI members to Verona, Italy, for the fourth GGI Italian Business Summit.

The conference will start on Friday morning with several Practice Group meetings: Debt Collection, Restructuring & Insolvency; Litigation & Dispute Resolution and International Taxation. For those who arrive early not intending to take part in one of the Practice Group meetings, an optional city tour has been arranged.

In the evening, a dinner at the wonderfully located restaurant Al Cristo will allow delegates to get to know each other in a very typical Italian atmosphere.

On the Saturday morning, the conference covering the topic of “Investing and Communicating in Italy” will be held in a special venue at Palazzo Castellani Sermeti. A varied programme has been put together.

There is also a very comprehensive programme of further activities, including a “Made in Italy” cooking class, a shopping trip, a wine tasting workshop in Valpolicella and a guided tour through Venice including a Gondola Serenade experience, as well as a hiking tour on Mount Pasubio. Attendees who would like to extend their stay are invited on a three-day adventure with GGI fellows, which will include hiking in the Lake Garda area plus climbing and canyoning on Via Ferrata (Italian for “iron road” – a network of climbing routes).

Don’t be fooled into thinking this will be a gentle, relaxing weekend. The work in Practice Group meetings on Friday afternoon and a comprehensive conference programme on Saturday morning will be a workout for your brains.

Register soon to ensure you do not miss out on this wonderful Conference weekend in Italy.

Please note that registrations for this event should be made directly with the Renbel Travel agency. GGI members can download the complete IBS Programme and the registration form from the GGI Website, or from www.meeting-eventi.com/IBS2016. Please return completed registration form to events@renbelgroup.it.

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Personal Contacts are Key

Asia3Claudio G. Cocca, GGI’s Founder and President, travelled around Asia for two weeks with Peter Käser, GGI Regional CEO Middle East/Africa/Asia, to meet (potential) new GGI members and visit existing members.

They visited Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, gaining insights into the everyday working life of GGI members and discovering more about their latest projects, training, developments and activities. The GGI member firms were exceptional hosts.

After a 14-hour flight to Thailand, there was only a short time to rest in Bangkok before the appointment with GGI member Dherakupt International Law Office Ltd. The long journey was quickly forgotten on the warm welcome at the impressive offices. In Bangkok, Peter and Claudio also visited future GGI member firm MBMG Group. They had the opportunity to meet all partners and admire the firm’s modern offices.

They then travelled on to Jakarta, Indonesia, where they visited GGI member firms PT ASA Indonesia, KAP Jimmy Budhi & Rekan Registered Public Accountants and KIPP Rao, Yuhal & Rekan. A fascinating and inspiring meeting was rounded off with a delicious Indonesian lunch.

The next stop was Singapore, where temperatures were a hot 36°C. A relaxed, informative meeting with GGI member Robert Yam from Robert Yam & Co. made the trip very worthwhile.

The duo then flew to Hong Kong, a bustling metropolis never fails to captivate. Peter and Claudio met up with GGI member firms Robertson Law Firm and Wong Brothers & Co. Certified Public Accountants. Frank Szeto and Ricky Wong were both excellent hosts. This was a brilliant opportunity to discuss this year’s GGI Asia-Pacific Conference in Hong Kong, as well as to visit the hotel at which it will take place.

In Shanghai, the largest city in the world with 25 million inhabitants, GGI member Shimin Law Office also welcomed Peter and Claudio to their professional firm, which specialises in foreign investors and international clients in China.

The last destination of the Asia trip was the capital of China, Beijing, to visit GGI member Horizon Group, an accounting firm with more than 600 employees. President Peigang He and Tony Shao welcomed Peter and Claudio and took them on a guided tour of their new headquarters. As is the tradition in China, the pair drew Chinese characters in a welcoming ceremony, which they both found very moving.

In Beijing, they also had the opportunity to visit potential member Global Law Office

 

 

, which is one of the leading internationally oriented Chinese law firms. Christoph Köppel and Lawrence Guo introduced the firm to Peter and Claudio, discussing the future collaboration with GGI.

GGI sets itself apart through the personal relationships between GGI’s management and its members, as well as between the members. The face-to-face contact, exchange visits and regular meetings as well as extensive communications between members and head office define GGI’s culture, helping to build the strong foundation for the trusting cooperations.

Claudio G. Cocca comments: “The warm welcome we received from all GGI members on our trip was truly touching and inspiring. It is extremely rewarding to maintain contact with all GGI members and stay up-to-date on the latest developments. The friendly atmosphere at GGI and close personal contact set GGI apart from other organisations.”

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GGI EasyMeet in Bratislava, Slovakia |March 6-8, 2015

Bratislava Speed NetworkingBratislava seemed a little sleepy when we first arrived. “It’s the school holidays,” the locals told us. “Everyone is away to spend some quality time with their families.” However, what happens when over 40 GGI junior professionals and associates converge in Bratislava for an EasyMeet? First, we woke the city. Secondly, we also got a most exciting weekend filled with making new and renewing old connections, treasure hunting, learning, interesting photo opportunities, and of course plenty of good food surrounded by a little history and culture.

Our “revamped” EasyMeet started early on Friday afternoon, with a welcome from Michael Reiss von Filski, GGI Global CEO, and Marian Augustin from GGI member firm AT Partners, k.s. AT Partners is a professional services organisation based in Bratislava that provides integrated solutions that draw on diverse and profound competencies in tax, audit and accounting consulting and assurance.

In an effort to ensure that everyone got to know each other early on in the weekend, we ran a Speed Networking session followed immediately afterwards by a Treasure Hunt all over the city. The guidelines for forming teams were that (i) you had to find a team that had someone you might not have had a chance to meet yet during the Speed Networking session and (ii) you could not be with someone from your company or your country. Of course, there were the few who managed to break the rules but on the whole the teams were fairly even. Nothing like the hint of a competition to bring out a competitive streak in everyone, although some spent perhaps too much time looking for photographs with “a random beautiful woman” and “a random beautiful man”. The winning team, “GGI Rockets”, was the most mixed team, the only one with GGI in the name, and the only team to complete all the challenges for time deduction bonuses. In fairness, they were also one of the few teams to find real beautiful people …. as opposed to photographing themselves with models on advertising billboards.

There was a great buzz on Friday evening as we gathered for dinner at Hrad Restaurant on the grounds of Bratislava Castle. There were many opportunities to take photographs of the city at night as we walked from the coach to the restaurant and the views of the Castle up close and personal were also rather spectacular. When we finally got to the Restaurant, we were greeted with a traditional Slovakian welcome: salt with bread, accompanied with sparkling wine. Dinner was a buffet of many local traditional delights and some Sacher-Torte, which somehow managed to make its way across the border from Austria or was a very good imitation.

Saturday morning kicked off bright and early with Michael Reiss von Filski presenting a short talk on “How to Get Almost Anything from Almost Anybody – The art of conversation, persuasion and negotiation”. He did also cover how to set up the scene for when you need to renegotiate a raise with your manager, which was rather useful advice. Following on from the talk, Prof Dr Ivan Perlaki, who has over 40 years of experience in management consulting and management development, spoke about “Strategic Scenario Planning: How to Face the Current Global Crisis”. We wrapped up the meeting with a choice between Technical Presentations by the host firm and a Case Study Workshop run by Prof Dr Dirk Baur.

Bratislava 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all meetings over and done with, the group embarked on an adventure away from the city and across the Slovakian countryside. We had a private lunch in the wine cellar of a countryside restaurant, which was so gastronomically splendid that we had to enquire about the chef. Apparently, he had earned a couple of Michelin stars while working at another restaurant previously. Following on from lunch, we drove through a Small Carpathian Wine Trail and ended up in the Cervený Kamen (Red Stone) Castle, located above the village Pila some 30km northeast of Bratislava, surrounded by a beautiful forested landscape. This massive military stronghold was originally constructed as a part of a defensive castle chain spreading along the Small Carpathians that guarded the borders of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom. The current appearance of the castle is a result of radical Renaissance reconstruction in the wake of the Turkish military retreat in the 16th-17th centuries. In recent decades, the castle underwent a lengthy restoration process, which resulted in its opening to the public in 1992. Rich collections of historical furniture from Pálffy estates, memorabilia from the anti-Ottoman wars and other items illustrate the lifestyle of the nobility in this part of Europe. We were led through the Castle room by room on a private tour, the highlights of which included some very interesting furniture in the gentlemen’s game room.Bratislava 4

The falconry show immediately after the guided tour of the Castle was quite something else. Unfortunately it was very early in the season to see the likes of eagles and hawks swooping down from up high – the birds were still a little bit overweight after the winter – but we did see some rather scary owls, ravens and falcons. (No doubt the use of the word “scary” in this paragraph gives away the author of this article to all those present that afternoon, but they would also agree that THAT raven was certainly the personification of pure evil.)

Bratislava 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We closed off the EasyMeet weekend with a dinner in the very trendy UFO Restaurant atop of the Novy Most (New Bridge), with views across the river back towards Bratislava Castle and the whole of the city, plus a little bit of the windmill farm across the border in Austria. It was a very chilled evening in a very intimate setting. Certainly no better way to end an EasyMeet.

GGI is    on the lookout for more cities in which to hold EasyMeets in the future. AT Partners has helped us very much in setting a high standard for our revamped format. We would love to hear from your firm if you are interested in hosting an EasyMeet. Please contact Linda Soriton at soriton@ggi.com for more information.

 

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Practice Group Chairperson Meeting (PGCM) | Feb 6-8, 2015

PG Chairpersons Mtg 2 PG Chairpersons

From 6 to 8 February, the 2015 Practice Group Chairperson Meeting took place at the Hotel Continental in Zurich. This annual event witnessed the gathering of the Global Chairpersons of the GGI Practice Groups, who are the core of GGI’s professional activity.

The meeting started on Friday evening with a welcome dinner at Quaglinos, an elegant restaurant offering local produce and wines near the Zurich Opera, the city’s most famous theatre.

The Saturday session included productive discussions, focusing on taking advantage of the current assets of the GGI Practice Groups as well as exploiting new development opportunities. Each of the Practice Group Chairs attending this session had the opportunity to illustrate the developments occurring within their practice groups, suggest further projects and brainstorm ideas, all in a relaxed and friendly environment. Topics such as new goals of the practice groups, meeting frequency, communication tools and vision were also discussed, taking note of the different points of view provided by the international experience of the Practice Group Chairs.

The afternoon session also featured a presentation delivered by Dr László Tunyogi focused on EU institutions. Dr Tunyogi explained how knowledge on current European issues can help GGI members to further improve their professional success and how this knowledge can benefit the practice groups. He also illustrated the European Monitor publication, published on the internal area of the GGI website every two weeks, which contains the last fortnight’s EU news collected by GGI representatives in Brussels. It primarily uses information that is publicly unavailable, gathered in the corridors of EU institutions, as well as from internal material of research, financial and specialised organisations. The European Monitor also lists the “Your Voice in Europe” topics that are open for discussion and on which every GGI member can express an opinion. In this way, they can influence the decisions of the European Parliament.

PG Chairpersons Mtg

After the meeting session, the programme continued with a sightseeing tour in the nostalgic “Classic Trolley”, an old Tram carriage from San Francisco renovated as a touring bus. The Classic Trolley accompanied the Practice Group Chairs around the city, touching the heart of Zurich’s history and ending its route at the Zunfthaus zur Zimmerleuten, one of the city’s oldest venues, located along the Limmat River in the very centre of Zurich. All the Practice Group Chairs enjoyed the delicacies offered by this classy and renowned location as the event came to a successful end.

The 2016 Practice Group Chairperson meeting will take place between 5 to 7 February, and certainly promises to be another welcome opportunity for sharing and applying the experience of GGI members in order to further improve the professional opportunities offered by the alliance.

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