The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) hosted a top-level meeting of the executive committee and provincial chambers, as well as other business associations, on November 2, 2007 in Vientiane. The president of the LNCCI, Kissana Vongsay, said the executive committee discussed plans to improve capacity building of the chamber for the year 2008, to ensure that the entrepreneurs groups and associations benefited as much as possible. He said government officials should work to improve the business environment for entrepreneurs, and help resolve government – related problems of business owners, to ensure that the private sector can help the country’s economic progress. Strengthening the business community in Laos will be the key issue of LNCCI in the year 2008, who is committed to take leadership in business and employers representation.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also play a part in increasing local incomes, as part of the national socio-economic development process. New entrepreneurs will have the chance to learn more about how to improve their businesses and to ensure they can export their products to international markets, on the same level as experienced entrepreneurs. To implement the new plans, the executive committee will ensure that the national chamber is enshrined in law, rather than being the subject of a Prime Minister Decree. Since 1989, when the Lao National Chamber was established, the number of members has been increasing to 1075, including 25 business associations and 9 provincial chambers. Still it needs to improve services to the members, such as business information, and to attract new members in all business sectors in Laos.
At the closing ceremony, Minister of Industry and CommerceDr. Nam Viyaket, provided comments on the government’s point of view on the promotion of the business community’s development. According to Viyaket, the government fully supports the movement of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the leader of the business community in Laos. The event was supported by UNIDO and UNDP who were represented by Dr. Kheungkham Keonuchan and Stephane Vigie.
Anhui General Chamber of Commerce (AHGCC) organized a workshop with private entrepreneurs to exchange information and opinions on the new Labor Contract Law and the Arbitration Law of China. Nearly 100 entrepreneurs attended the workshop in Hefei on October 29 and 30, 2007. The German development cooperation agencies GTZ and SEQUA supported the event within the Sino-German SME Promotion Program.
Chamber President Prof. Li Weihua pointed out the impact on labor cost in China that is expected from the new Labor Contract Law, which will come into effect on January 1, 2008. The labor law expert of Anhui University, Dr. Li Kungang provided details on the requirements of the new law and compared it with similar laws of Germany, Japan, France, and the USA. The Secretary General of the Hefei Arbitration Commission, Li Jiale held a presentation on the Arbitration Law and its implementation in Anhui province. Experts and participants discussed the implications of both laws in small groups.
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.
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.
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.
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
Chairman of AICC
Dr. Amin Farhang
Minister of Commerce and Industry
New CCI Leadership Joins Entrepreneurs’ Delegation
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.
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.
The 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.
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, 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 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.
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.
In cooperation with the German development agency GTZ, the Anhui Provincial Economic Commission carried out the First International Symposium on Industry Clusters from August 8 through 10, 2007. The event was opened by Vice-Governor Huang Haisong and GTZ Program Executive Dr. Juergen Steiger.
Around 240 Chinese cluster specialists discussed cluster theories, development strategies, sucessful examples, and cluster management with the German experts Godehard Neumann, Bernd Hackler and Helmut Schönleber. The Wuhu Automotive Cluster, home of China’s leading car exporter Chery, was explored as a model candidate for cluster formation in the country.
China’s Approach to SME Promotion through Public-Private Dialogue
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Anhui Provincial Government and the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) have jointly organized an International Symposium on SME Promotion: “China’s Approach to SME Promotion through Public-Private Dialogue on Policy, Strategies and Developing Models”. The symposium was held on June 29th and 30th 2007 in Hefei, Anhui Province, PR China.
As a result of the NDRC announced program for the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises which sought to develop and establish a co-operative business environment for SME in China, Anhui Province presented the new tested models of cooperation and promotion of industrial locations.
The symposium provided a forum to discuss international policy approaches in the field of SME Promotion especially on public-private cooperation and to share knowledge and experiences from Anhui Province. In three plenary sessions and three interactive workshops, the following major topics were addressed:
SME Policy and Business Environment
Business Development through Modern Regional Strategies
Business Development Services (BDS) and Development of Chambers and Associations
More than 350 participants attended the event, including high-ranking government officials from the Anhui Provincial Government, representatives of international organizations as well as German and international experts and renowned experts and scholars from research institutes and academies. National and regional media reported extensively on the event.
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.
Territorial cooperation and capacity development of business communities accross Asia