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.



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


Dr. Amin Farhang
Minister of Commerce and Industry

Arif Zarif
Chairman of CRC

Press Release in PDF Format





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.

First SME Cluster Symposium in Anhui

China Develops Industry Clusters

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.

President of the Anhui People's Congress, Zhu Xianfa, and Meng Xunzhi

President of the Anhui People’s Congress, Zhu Xianfa, and Meng Xunzhi

More than 200 officials attended the symposium.

More than 200 officials attended the symposium.

International Symposium on SME 2007

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.

Opening of the Symposium by Dr. Jürgen Steiger

Opening of the Symposium by Dr. Jürgen Steiger

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.

Interview with Hanns-Eberhard Schleyer

Interview with Hanns-Eberhard Schleyer

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 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.

Hefei City Experts Hearing

Hefei to Expand Community Based Service System

The municipal government of eastern China’s city of 4 million, Hefei, capital of Anhui province, wants to improve the service system for small and medium-sized enterprises. On March 26, 2007, German GTZ organized a half-day expert hearing for leaders of the city’s economic commission and the municipal SME service center. Meng Xunzhi, director of GTZ Anhui office, and SEQUA-Expert Helmut Schoenleber participated and introduced SME service systems in western developed countries, which are largely based on the private business community and its membership organizations.