Chamber of commerce

Chamber of commerce

A chamber of commerce (also referred to in some circles as a board of trade) is a form of business network, e.g., a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members, and they elect a board of directors or executive council to set policy for the chamber. The board or council then hires a President, CEO or Executive Director, plus staffing appropriate to size, to run the organization.

The first chamber of commerce was founded in -1599 in Marseille, France.[1][2][3][4] It would be followed 65 years later by another official chamber of commerce, probably in Brugge, Belgium.[5]

The world's oldest English-speaking chamber of commerce is that of New York City,[6] which was established in 1768.[7] The largest chamber of commerce in the United Kingdom is Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce with more than 5,000 members.[citation needed] The oldest known existing chamber in the English-speaking world with continuous records is the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce,[8] which was founded in 1783. However, Leeds Chamber of Commerce[9] is the UK's oldest, followed by Belfast, Northern Ireland.[citation needed]



Membership in an individual chamber in an area can range from a few dozen to well over 300,000 (as is the case with the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry). Some chamber organizations in China report even larger membership numbers. Chambers of commerce can range in scope from individual neighborhoods within a city or town up to an international chamber of commerce.[10]

In the United States, chambers do not operate in the same manner as the Better Business Bureau in that, while the BBB has the authority to bind its members under a formal operations doctrine (and, thus, can remove them if complaints arise regarding their services), the local chamber membership is strictly voluntary. In addition, Chambers represent the interests of businesses, while the BBB represents the interests of the general public. Chambers of commerce also can include economic development corporations or groups (though the latter can sometimes be a formal branch of a local government, the groups work together and may in some cases share office facilities) as well as tourism and visitors bureaus.[citation needed]

Some chambers have joined state, national, and even international bodies (such as Eurochambres, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Worldchambers or the American Chamber of Commerce Executives). Currently, there are about 13,000 chambers registered in the official Worldchambers Network registry, and the chamber of commerce network is the largest business network globally. This network is informal, with each local chamber incorporated and operating separately, rather than as a chapter of a national or state chamber.

Chamber models

Local and regional chambers

Chambers of commerce in the US can be considered local, regional, state, or nationwide (US Chamber of Commerce). Local Chambers work on the local level to bring the business community together to develop strong local networks, which can result in a business-to-business exchange. In most cases, local Chambers work with their local government, such as their mayor, their city council and local representatives to develop pro-business initiatives.

State chambers

State chambers of commerce are much different from local and regional chambers of commerce, as they work on state and sometimes federal issues impacting the business community. Just as the local chamber is critical to the local business community, state chambers serve a unique function, serving as a third party voice on important business legislation that impact the business community and are critical in shaping legislation in their respective state. State Chamber's work with their Governor, state representatives, state senators, US congressional leaders and US Senators.In comparison with state trade associations, which serve as a voice and resource to a particular industry, state chambers are looked to as a respected voice, representing the entire business community to enhance and advocate for a better business environment.

Compulsory/public law chambers

Under the compulsory or public law model, enterprises of certain sizes, types, or sectors are obliged to become members of the chamber. This model is common in European Union countries (France,[11] Germany, Italy, Spain), but also in Japan. Main tasks of the chambers are foreign trade promotion, vocational training, regional economic development, and general services to their members. The chambers were given responsibilities of public administration in various fields by the state which they exercise in order management. The chambers also have a consultative function; this means the chambers must be consulted whenever a new law related to industry or commerce is proposed.[12]

In Germany, the chambers of commerce and industry (IHK - Industrie- und Handelskammer) and the chambers of skilled crafts (HwK - Handwerkskammer) are public statutory bodies with self-administration under the inspectorate of the state ministry of economy. Enterprises are members by law according to the chamber act (IHK-Gesetz) of 1956. Because of this, such chambers are much bigger than chambers under private law. IHK Munich, the biggest German chamber of commerce, has 350,000 member companies.[13] Germany also has compulsory chambers for "free occupations" such as architects, dentists, engineers, lawyers, notaries, physicians and pharmacists.

Continental/private law chambers

Under the private model, which exists in English-speaking countries like USA, Canada or the UK, but as well in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, companies are not obligated to become chamber members. However, companies often become members to develop their business contacts and, regarding the local chambers (the most common level of organization), to demonstrate a commitment to the local economy. Though governments are not required to consult chambers on proposed laws, the chambers are often contacted given their local influence and membership numbers.

Multilateral chambers

A multilateral chamber is formed of companies (and sometimes individuals) from different countries with a common business interest towards or in a specific country. It can further be active in representing the interests of local and foreign investors in that specific country, achieved through promotion and proactivity regarding the general business environment. Multilateral chambers of commerce are independent entities strengthening business relations and interactions between all economic players, and their members may benefit from a broad range of activities that enhance the visibility and reputation of their business.

See also


  1. ^ "1599 Création à Marseille de la première Chambre de Commerce.". Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  2. ^ "Le port de Marseille, qui possède la plus ancienne Chambre de Commerce de France (fondée en 1599), acquiert une notoriété Mondiale". Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  3. ^ "Marseille, la Chambre, la plus vieille de France, crée en 1559 par Henri IV". Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  4. ^ André-Pierre Nouvion, Origine et histoire des juridictions consulaires et des Chambres de Commerce et d'Industrie Françaises, 2002
  5. ^ "elle ouvrit un nouveau bassin commercial en bordure de la ville en 1665 et créa une Chambre de commerce.". Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  6. ^ Google Books
  7. ^ Joseph Bucklin Bishop, A Chronicle of One Hundred and Fifty Years: The Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York 1768-1918 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1918)
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Victor Fedotov, Organization and Legal Models of Chambers
  11. ^ André-Pierre Nouvion, Chambres de commerce et d'industrie - Encyclopédie juridique Dalloz - Répertoire de droit commercial, 2005
  12. ^ Markus Pilgrim and Ralf Meier, Chamber Primer
  13. ^ "IHK München". Retrieved 31 August 2010. 

External links

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  • chamber of commerce — noun count an organization of people who own stores and businesses in a particular town or city. Their aim is to improve conditions for business in their area …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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  • Chamber Of Commerce — An association of businessmen and businesswomen designed to promote and protect the interests of its members. There is a national Chamber of Commerce, as well as numerous state and local chambers. Among the benefits members receive are deals and… …   Investment dictionary

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