Category Archives: Chambers of Commerce

Building a Strong Platform

China Daily Editor’s note

As a German federally-owned enterprise, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a global service provider in international cooperation and professional training for sustainable development. GIZ operates in 130 countries with 17,000 staff members worldwide and provides policy advice, knowledge transfer, capacity building and organisational development support in areas where German know-how is world-leading.

GIZ has more than three decades of experience in cooperation with China, and 28 years with Northeast China. What changes happened in Shenyang over the past decades? What are the main achievements of the cooperation between Germany and Shenyang? Helmut Schönleber, Programme Director of GIZ, shares his views with China Daily.

China Daily - European Weekly - April 11 - Page 17 - Building a Strong Platform
China Daily – European Weekly – April 11 – Page 17 – Building a Strong Platform

Q: What role does GIZ play in promoting the cooperation between Germany and Shenyang? What are the main achievements?

Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development, GIZ launched projects in China since 1982. We began our first project in Northeast China in 1986, a Training Centre for Welding in Harbin. Just a few years later, we started to support the Liaoning Vocational and Technical Education Research Centre in Shenyang, and implemented our regional projects from our Shenyang Office ever since.

In the Liaoning Employment Promotion and Training Programme, we worked together with our Chinese partners on improving the labour market structure, supported highly skilled talent training, provided training for business start-ups, and initiated a Public-Private Cooperation Project between BMW-Brilliance and vocational schools in Shenyang. In total, we held more than 60 symposiums and trainings with over 2,500 participants.

In 2011, we started to cooperate with Development and Reform Commissions in a programme to support the new State Council strategy on integration and coordination of economic development in the Northeast. The programme achieved a good improvement in cooperation between provincial stakeholders, and contributed to an impulse on German business contacts with Northeast China.

In our projects, we arranged many mutual visits of German and Shenyang officials, experts, and entrepreneurs to build new partnerships. Germany established a Consulate General in Shenyang, and German Lufthansa Airlines connected Frankfurt and Shenyang with a non-stop flight, starting in 2012.

Q: Why are German enterprises interested in investing in Shenyang?

Germany and Northeast China are similar in climate and in the character and business habits of our people, such as seeking excellence in profession. More and more Germans know about the economic development of the Shenyang Metropolitan Area as a hub to reach all of Northeast Asia. When we did research for our “China Liaoning Business Guide”, we even found out that Liaoning was the fastest growing sub-national region in the world, far ahead of Ile-de-France, Greater London, California, Tokyo-to or Bavaria. Both the matching character of people and the amazing growth opportunities are important for attracting German enterprises.

The cooperation between Germany and Shenyang initially focused on big enterprises such as BMW and Brilliance, but the centre of attention is now shifting to small and medium enterprises. They are concerned with demand and supply, the location of customers and competitors, and the political environment when selecting their location for investment.

Q: What factors will German investors consider if they want to invest in Shenyang?

Aside from industry-specific key factors, German companies consider investing here due to the national Shenyang Metro development plan and the preferential policies expected to be applied. Compared to other locations, the Shenyang workforce has a higher level of professional training, but there is still much room for improvement. The city and the provincial government seem to pay attention to provide quality human resources for foreign enterprises.

Q: What’s your suggestion for companies in Shenyang on attracting German partners?

Firstly, German enterprises like to cooperate with foreign partners in the same field of operations. So, Shenyang enterprises should get to know German enterprises in their specific market niche.

Secondly, German companies like partners who apply a similar work attitude as they do. They like precision, specialization, efficiency, reliability, honesty, and openness. Shenyang enterprises with those characteristics will more easily succeed in finding German partners.

It is one of the objectives in our Northeast Programme to promote economic cooperation between enterprises of our two countries. Within our project, over 200 north-eastern enterprises will build cooperation with Germany. We will provide entrepreneurs of Shenyang the opportunity to meet German entrepreneurs. It will be up to them to turn these opportunities into successful cooperation.

Q: In your opinion, what needs to be improved in Shenyang?

Foreign enterprises need foreign people. I suggest Shenyang to pay more attention to providing proper services for these people, such as more international schools for their children, international food and entertainment, and convenient public transportation. Foreigners and Chinese alike also love clean air, so try to improve air quality.

Foreign enterprises also need a strong vocational training system trimmed to their specific needs. German enterprises consider their long-term development more than others, so they require the availability of talents they need in 10 or 20 years.

Shenyang has been looking at the experience of the German Ruhr Area, and adopted some of the lessons learnt. I think there is still much more to be exchanged. Why not intensify the twinning between Shenyang and Düsseldorf and between Liaoning and Baden-Württemberg? We at GIZ will be happy to assist in all these endeavours.

Afghanistan Chamber Elections

Private Sector to Elect Provincial and National Leadership

ACCI CEO Mohammad Qurban Haqjo
ACCI CEO Mohammad Qurban Haqjo

The new Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) is preparing the largest ever business community elections in the country. Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, CEO of the national chamber, explained in a meeting on June 6, 2008, that all registered members in 21 provinces will be invited to vote for their delegates to the national ACCI High Council in July, 2008. Voters include members of the former Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), the former Afghan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC), and a large number of business people who were previously not affiliated with either chamber. The former chambers had decided in a March 2008 Joint Assembly to merge both organizations and hold elections as soon as possible.

Fraidoon Watanyar
Fraidoon Watanyar

The national and all provincial chambers of commerce are currently validating their membership lists and accepting new membership applications. Voter lists are being prepared. According to ACCI Membership Director Fraidoon Watanyar, more than 10,000 voters were already registered by June 6, 2008. At the current rate of membership applications and verification, about 12,000 members are expected to cast their votes in July and elect more than 120 delegates for the national High Council. The High Council will then convene in Kabul in August to elect the new Board of Directors of ACCI.

ACCI Logo
ACCI Logo

Key objective of the merger and the elections is the creation of an ACCI High Council that is accepted and supported by a strong majority of the Afghan business community as their leading representative organ, and that is also able to build opinions and make majority decisions internally, to then unanimously advocate these decisions externally.

The ACCI Board of Directors has established an election schedule for the economically active provinces, as well as procedures for the nomination of candidates and the actual voting. Nomination and elections will be free, fair, and transparent. The event will be a unique opportunity to introduce democratic procedures many members are not yet familiar with.

BMO Workshops in Laos

Income Generation of Chambers and Business Associations

Vientiane Workshop
Vientiane Workshop

The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and (UNIDO) held two workshops on income generation of business membership organizations (BMOs) from April 25 through May 2, 2008. The workshops in the capital Vientiane and in Northern Laos’ Oudomxay Province were part of a training series on chamber and association management within the joint UNIDO-UNDP project “Promoting Private Sector Development Through Strengthening of Lao Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Business Associations” in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The LNCCI Board of Directors met in Oudomxay for an internal meeting before opening the first workshop on April 25. President Kissana Vongsay, Vice Presidents Onesy Boutsivongsad, Dr. Sananh Chounlamany, Chantao Pathammavong, Sisanouk Sisombat, Southone Sirisack, Oudet Souvannavong, and Secretary General Khanthavong Dalavong participated in the discussion of income generation potential and new strategies of LNCCI, provincial CCIs, and the other BMOs. Deputy Secretary General Sengdavone Bangolesengdet explained the principles of decision-making and political advocacy of the business community within a strong and united BMO system. CIM Expert Dr. Ramon Bruesseler presented a status report on LNCCI strategy development in 2008. UNIDO Expert Helmut Schoenleber provided background information on international best practice in demand-oriented services for members, the structure of fair membership and service fees, and the optimization of other income.

Oudomxay province had been selected for this first workshop of the series, because the provincial Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the youngest in the country and urgently needs support in capacity building and management. The provincial government underlined its strong interest in the new chamber: Oudomxay Governor Bounphone Buttanavong and Vice Governor Somsy Saybounhuang joined the group after the workshop and promised their continued support for the business community and its chamber.

Leaders and financial managers of LNCCI, five provincial chambers, and seven national business associations participated in the second workshop in Vientiane from April 28 through May 2. Trainers in this workshop were LNCCI Deputy Secretary General Sengdavone Bangolesengdet, accounting and auditing consultant Phonexay Sanasin, and UNIDO’s expert on business membership organizations, Helmut Schoenleber.

CCI Organizational Structure

First Workshop with New Chamber Leaders

The entire newly elected leadership of Anhui General Chamber of Commerce (AHGCC) actively participated in a workshop on the organizational structure of chambers of commerce which was carried out in the city of Ningguo from October 25 to 27, 2007 with 68 participants from all over the province. GTZ and SEQUA supported the event. Li Weihua, new president of the provincial chamber, explained in his opening speech the organizational and political milestones the new presidium intends to discuss with the prefectural and county chambers as well as the governments on all levels. According to Li, a suitable legal framework needs to be created for the work of the chambers.

Opening Speeches
Opening Speeches

First Vice President Cao Jianhua and Vice President Yan Anyun pointed out the growing acknowledgement of the importance of chambers of commerce in representing private sector interests. This role had just been reconfirmed by the recent party congress in Beijing. To master the new tasks, the Anhui Chamber wants to adjust organizational and process structures according to international standards and scientific methods.

Participants
Participants

Merger of Afghanistan Chambers of Commerce

Private Sector to Speak With One Voice

A joint committee of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC) has, in a Kabul meeting on October 7, 2007, paved way for a merger between the two organizations to form a new, stronger, and united national chamber of commerce to represent the entire private sector of the country. Their elected top leaders, President Dr. Ghulam Mohammad Yaylaqi of ACCI and Chairman Azarakhsh Hafizi of AICC, signed a joint declaration on the merger at the meeting.

Handshake
Handshake

Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Amin Farhang expressed his full support and his appreciation of a united voice for the private sector. “This will significantly speed up the economic progress of our country and reduce confusion among private entrepreneurs and traders”, he said at a press conference. “A modern, member-oriented chamber can play an important role in services for the enterprises and influence political decision-making. Of course, it also makes our life in the government easier, if we only need to talk to one partner who represents the balanced interest of the private sector.” According to Farhang, a new, liberal chamber law can now be ratified much faster than without the merger.

Two main sponsors of economic development in Afghanistan, USAID and GTZ, support the concept of the merger of the two chambers. They were represented by the Director of the Office Economic Growth, USAID, Donnie Harrington, and the Acting Head of Sustainable Economic Development Program (NaWi) of GTZ, Shafic Gawhari. More than 70 national and international journalists, leading representatives of both chambers, private entrepreneurs, politicians, and members of the international community in Kabul observed the event.

The Chairman of the recently established Chamber Merger Committee, Mahmood Karzai, brother of Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, declared that the CMC will work towards ensuring that the combined chamber introduces best practices such as a democratic election process, by-laws giving power to the members, external auditor to audit accounts, and a democratic and accountable board.

He also provided further details on the decisions of the meeting. “We expect the first session of the founding assembly for the new chamber to take place as soon as November 24th. During that session, we want private sector representatives of all regions and sectors to discuss and adopt our new by-laws and to elect the new leadership. The new chamber can then start full operations before the end of the year.” Karzai had just been elected Chairman of the Committee on October 4th, with Khan Jan Alokozai and Azarakhsh Hafizi as Vice Chairmen and Mohammad Haqjo as Head of Secretariat.

Responding to a question of the Ariana TV correspondent, Chamber Reform Commission Chairman Arif Zarif explained that the restructuring of the chamber’s full-time staff organization will be a major task of the new CMC. “A socially acceptable solution for the reduction of employees must be found,” said Zarif who is also Chairman of the Economics Committee of the National Assembly, Afghanistan’s parliament.

Joint Declaration on Merger

With the objective to establish a strong and united business membership organization representing the entire private sector of Afghanistan, and to build a platform for the self-administration of the business community of Afghanistan, the leading elected organs of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC) have, after careful consideration and friendly negotiations and in close consultations with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, decided to merge both organizations into one national Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan.

Under guidance of the Chamber Reform Commission (CRC), ACCI and AICC have established a Chamber Merger Committee (CMC) to prepare and implement the merger process. The CMC is composed of seven leading representatives of ACCI, seven leading representatives of AICC, and one impartial Head of Secretariat.

The CMC has unanimously elected Mr. Mahmood Karzai as its Chairman, Mr. Khan Jan Alokozai and Mr. Azarakhsh Hafizi as its Vice Chairmen, and Mr. Mohammad Haqjo as its Head of Secretariat.

Kabul, October 7, 2007

Dr. Ghulam Mohammad Yaylaqi
President of ACCI

Azarakhsh Hafizi
Chairman of AICC

Confirmed:

Dr. Amin Farhang
Minister of Commerce and Industry

Arif Zarif
Chairman of CRC

Press Release in PDF Format

Signing
Signing
Participants
Participants
Press Conference
Press Conference

Chamber Best-Practice Mission to Europe

New CCI Leadership Joins Entrepreneurs’ Delegation

Discussion at SEQUA headquarters
Discussion at SEQUA headquarters

The newly elected leaders of chambers of commerce and industry (CCI) in the Chinese province of Anhui had the opportunity to better understand the daily work of their colleagues in Germany, Austria, Belgium, and France during a fact-finding mission from September 16 to 26, 2007. SEQUA gGmbH organized the mission within the Sino-German SME Project. A number of member entrepreneurs of the Chinese chambers accompanied the elected and full-time leaders.

At Darmstadt CCI, Martin Proba, Sonja Müller and Jens-Uwe Lalk informed the group about CCI sector development policies, using the Automotive Cluster Rhein-Main-Neckar as an example, and about CCI international work, using the China Competence Center of Darmstadt and Frankfurt CCI as the other example.

The group travelled to Bonn on the same day, to learn about chamber models world wide and about the structure and work of the leading German business membership organizations. Dr. Ralf Meier of SEQUA gGmbH presented this introduction. SEQUA shareholders are the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Association of German Chambers of Skilled Crafts, the Federation of German Industry, and the Federation of German Employers Associations. SEQUA implements projects to support capacity building in business membership organizations (BMO) in numerous developing countries.

In Bruxelles, General Manager Wouter Van Gulck of the Belgium Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry presented the structure of his chambers. Different from their neighboring countries, Belgian CCI are based on voluntary membership. Van Gulck also provided the opportunity of discussions with representatives of the Bruxelles City Chamber and the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. His Chinese guests were surprised to find the economic clout of regional root chambers such as Bruxelles and East Flanders stronger than the national “headquarters”.

Georges Fischer, CCIP
Georges Fischer, CCIP

Following a briefing on the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris by Hélène Kolmodin, Georges Fischer introduced both the World Chambers Federation, and the work, structures and strategies of the Paris City CCI. He also explained the latest developments of a virtual chamber: “CCIP in a de-materialized world”. Delegation leader Yan Anyun found similarities between French and Chinese CCI, both closely linked with the state organs.

Back in Germany, the group visited the largest CCI in number of members, the Munich and Upper Bavaria IHK. Johannes Huber and Christine von Nell provided insights to typical chamber tasks and how to achieve them. They showed examples on the chamber’s facilitating of members’ business contacts with companies abroad – including in China. Huber handed a CD-ROM with an enterprise database “Key Technologies in Bavaria” to each visitor, and encouraged the entrepreneurs from Anhui to take initiative contacting them.

Wirtschaftskammer Tirol PresentationThe mission was completed with an outline of the Austrian chamber structure, provided by Gregor Leitner of the Wirtschaftskammer Tirol in Innsbruck. He explained the organization and legal framework of his CCI as well as some differences to the German CCI: (1) in Austria, “Economic Chambers” include industry, commerce, and skilled crafts; (2) they represent employers’ interests in negotiations with the labor unions on tariff contracts.

The project is preparing a follow-up symposium on CCI management and structure for the new generation of leaders in Anhui, scheduled for December 10 and 11, 2007, in Hefei. Topics will include practical management tools, time management, media relations, quality management, team leadership, and more. Two Anhui workshops on building sectoral chambers and chamber legal services are scheduled in October, 2007.

Statistics: A Key Task of Chambers

Provincial Meeting on Chambers’ Statistics Work

Anhui General Chamber of Commerce organized a workshop with regional chamber statistics specialists on August 15 and 16, 2007 in the provincial capital of Hefei. Chamber president Wang Heling, who is also Vice-Chairman of the Anhui People’s Political Consultative Conference, opened the event on Wednesday, stressing the importance of statistics as one of the core tasks of chamber work. He asked the 46 participants to increase efficiency and reliability in their work by using more consistent and scientific methods.

Dr. Yan Chen
Dr. Yan Chen

Dr. Yan Chen, leader of the Anhui Provincial Economic Commission, held a keynote speech on the latest developments of the private sector in Anhui and its role in the new industrialization strategy of the provincial government. Section leader Gao Bozhou of the Anhui Provincial Statistics Office explained the calculation of private sector data within the GDP, pointed out some definition traps, and gave hints on how to avoid them. Project expert Helmut Schoenleber encouraged the participants to complete and update their membership database as a main source of statistical data about the private sector. The workshop aimed at improving the statistical work of prefectural and county chambers, and was supported by SEQUA and GTZ within the German-Chinese SME Promotion Program.

IT Workshop in Anhui

Chambers’ Web Services for SMEs

IT and website development specialists of the prefecture and county chambers in the Chinese province of Anhui met for a two-day workshop on strategies to improve online services for small and medium-sized enterprises and on the organization of chambers’ IT work in general. The workshop on August 13 and 14, 2007 in the city of Chaohu was organized by the Anhui General Chamber of Commerce with support of SEQUA and GTZ.

Strategies of IT development being discussed.
Strategies of IT development being discussed.

The IT expert of the national chamber ACFIC, Li Shanhai, presented the latest plans and procedural recommendations from Beijing. Internet services of the provincial chamber and plans for their improvement were presented by Zhang Zhihui, head of the IT department. Wang Wei, technical manager of Anhui Anlian Science & Technology Co., Ltd. explained the development of the web-based economy in Anhui province, and project expert Helmut Schönleber informed the 45 participants about organization and quality standards of chamber IT work in Germany as well as international models of BMO support services provided by leading chambers for their institutional member chambers in the regions.

China Business Times Interview

Draft Law on Sector Associations

China Business Times
China Business Times

China’s Draft Law on Sector Associations and Chambers has been discussed during the March plenary sessions of the National People’s Congress and the People’s Political Consultative Conference, but the legislative bodies failed to reach an early consensus. On April 5, 2007, the nation-wide newspaper “China Business Times” published the second part of an interview with the German expert Helmut Schoenleber who stressed the importance of non-government business membership organizations (BMO) for the healthy development of private enterprises. According to the expert, the country needs a fair BMO law protecting the interests of members and aiming for a wider self-administration of the private business community. For drafting the BMO law, legislators should not only consider the economic situation, national characteristics, demands of enterprises, and related laws and regulations of other countries, but they also need a fair portion of creativity.