Afghanistan Builds a New Chamber

Business Community Achieves Unity

Nearly 500 top business community representatives from all provinces of Afghanistan assembled in Kabul on March 9th, 2008, to set a strong signal for private sector development by establishing a new, united Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (new ACCI). They formally confirmed the merger of the two former chambers, the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (former ACCI) and the Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce (former AICC).

The assembly, chaired by Hakim Malyar, also discussed and agreed on a transitional by-law. The delegates of the private sector elected a temporary Board of Elders to decide on the transitional leadership of the new chamber until democratic elections have been carried out in all provinces. The elders decided to ask the complete Chamber Merger Committee (CMC), that had prepared the assembly, to act as Transitional Board of Directors of the new ACCI. Mahmood Karzai, Chairman of the CMC, will be the Transitional President, and CMC Head of Secretariat, Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, will be the Transitional Chief Executive Officer.

Minister of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Mir Mohammad Amin Farhang, expressed his full support for the new ACCI, but also promised that the government will not get involved in its internal affairs. “The new chamber must represent the democratic decisions of the business community vis-a-vis the public, foreign organizations and businesses, and also vis-a-vis the government”, he told the entrepreneurs. “This chamber is your own house!” He also suggested for the new ACCI to join international chamber organizations such as the Islamic Chambers of Commerce and Industry as soon as possible.

The ambassadors of Germany, Dr. Hans-Ulrich Seidt, and of Saudi-Arabia, Said Ghorm Malhan, were honorable guests of the assembly. The USA and Germany have been supporting a strong, efficient, and representative chamber system in Afghanistan for several years. Their development agencies were represented by Zdravko Sami of USAID and Shafic Gawhari of GTZ. The presidents of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, Omar Zakhilwal, and of the Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan, Suleman Fatimie, representatives of international organizations and of the national and international media also participated as observers in the meeting.

The assembly was a joint session of all elected delegates of the former ACCI and the former AICC, extended by numerous well-known private sector representatives who were previously not affiliated with either chamber. New ACCI President Karzai appreciated the strong engagement of the entire business community. He explained that the CMC was surprised by the enormous interest in the new chamber. “Until the last day before the assembly session, we kept receiving requests of business groups and famous entrepreneurs of all provinces to be included in the new chamber. Of course we are very happy about their interest, and despite our difficulty to organize these last-minute changes, we did not want to turn them down.” In a controversial discussion, regional and sectoral interest groups within the business community had voiced their concern about appropriate representation in the first regularly elected leadership organs of the new chamber.

The assembly unanimously passed a resolution requesting the transfer of all property owned by the former chambers to the new ACCI. The former ACCI had used contributions of the business community over decades to acquire considerable assets, which have not yet been returned by the government. The new Board of Directors plans to discuss the issue with Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai within a few days.

The transitional leadership of the new chamber plans to establish election rules and to organize democratic elections for the regional chambers’ boards of directors as soon as possible. Transitional CEO Haqjo confirmed in an interview that he strives to complete the merger of organizational structures and full-time staff of the former ACCI and the former AICC before the first regularly elected Board of Directors takes office. He appealed to the international donor community to continue supporting this effort.

Minister Farhang

Assembly in Session

Lao National CCI 2008 Annual Congress

Lao Prime Minister Joins BMO Discussion

Prime Minister

Prime Minister Bouasone with CCI Chairman Kissana

The Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bouasone Bouphanvanh, joined more than 350 top representatives of the private business community in their discussion about a new legal framework for the business membership organizations (BMOs) of the country. The discussion was key topic of the 2008 Annual Congress of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) on February 1, 2008 in Vientiane. By participating for the first time in a LNCCI Annual Congress, Bouasone underlined the government’s strong consideration for a more rational and effective BMO system under leadership of LNCCI. The event was a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs and business leaders to voice their concerns about specific obstacles to the development of their BMOs, as the Prime Minister listened in the afternoon session to the presidents of LNCCI, twelve provincial chambers of commerce and industry, and sixteen sector associations, before presenting his own viewpoints and recommendations.




LNCCI President Kissana Vongsay pointed out that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOC) already provided his chamber an unprecedented opportunity by authorizing it to draft a new decree on BMOs: “While all previous laws, decrees, and regulations were written by the Lao government, the BMO Decree will be the first to be officially suggested by a non-government organization.” Building a strong, united, democratic, sustainable, and financially independent system of political advocacy for the business community and of high-quality services for the members will be the main objectives of the decree, said Kissana. The improvement of the legal framework for BMOs in the Lao PDR is one objective of the UNIDO / UNDP joint project on private sector development.

350 Participants

350 Participants

Vice President Onesy Boutsyvongsack presented the LNCCI Board of Directors’ current considerations about the draft’s detailed provisions, and invited all participants to comment. In the morning session of the Annual Congress, the LNCCI members unanimously approved the 2007 annual action report presented by President Kissana, the financial report presented by Vice President and Treasurer Daovone Phachanthavong, and the 2008 action plan presented by Vice President Dr. Sananh Chounlamany. Secretary General Khanthavong Dalavong facilitated the discussions.

Symposium on Professional Education in Anhui

The Role of Chambers of Commerce in Vocational Training

China’s Anhui General Chamber of Commerce organized a Sino-German Symposium on Vocational Training on December 12 and 13, 2007 in cooperation with the Sino-German SME Project and the Hefei College of Finance and Economics. More than 50 owners and managers of private training institutions and other educational experts from the whole province participated in the event. After an introduction by Vice Presidents Cao Jianhua and Wu Chenggui, the Head of Programme Management of the German SEQUA gGmbH Dr. Ralf Meier, explained in his presentation the German dual system and the important role of chambers of commerce and industry as well as chambers of skilled crafts in coordination and administration of vocational training.

Presentation by Dr. Ralf MeierProf. Chen Zhulin of Shanghai’s Tongji-University explained possibilities of applying the German dual system in China. Prof. Su Yan (Hefei Institute of Vocational Training), Prof. Zeng Xianghong (China Computer Science Vocational School), Huang Bangduo (Tongyong Technology School) and Fan Shenping (Anhui Bureau of Labor and Social Security) contributed with their speeches and presentations to a complete overview on the current discussion about improving and modernizing their country’s vocational training system. Their viewpoints and the possible future role of chambers in vocational training were then actively discussed in small groups.

New SchoolDuring his visit of two private schools in the provincial capital of Hefei before the symposium, Dr. Ralf Meier obtained deeper insights into the current situation of vocational education in China. He explained that he was very impressed by the high organizational level of the new private schools. For example, the Hefei College of Finance and Economics just started operations in 2006 and already admitted over 7000 students within less than one year. In discussions with the top management of the schools, he shared his opinion and provided valuable advice in regard to their further development strategy. The students vividly expressed their appreciation of Meier’s visit.

Discussion with Dr. Ralf Meier

Discussion with Dr. Ralf Meier

Chamber Management Workshop

Anhui Chamber Administrators Discuss Management Strategies

Group PhotoAbout 40 general secretaries and chiefs of administration of the prefecture and county chambers in Anhui Province met on December 10 and 11, 2007 in Hefei for a workshop on management and services of chambers of commerce. President Li Weihua welcomed all participants and the German experts Dr. Ralf Meier and Helmut Schoenleber of SEQUA, who reported on international best practice in chamber management and work quality standards. All modules of the training program were provided to the Chinese partners. GTZ and SEQUA supported the event within the Sino-German SME Promotion Program.

Workshop for New Chamber Vice Presidents

Anhui Leadership Training

Workshop SessionThe Anhui General Chamber of Commerce (AHGCC) organized the first training workshop for entrepreneurs who were recently elected vice-presidents of all prefectural chambers in the province. The workshop took place on November 23 and 24, 2007 in Hefei, the provincial capital, with 70 participants. Anhui Chamber President Li Weihua and Vice Presidents Cao Jianhua, Yan Anyun and Wu Chenggui held keynote speeches during the workshop. Experts Helmut Schoenleber and Zeng Fanyin explained the principles and guidelines of chamber work and leadership in their presentations.

Afghanistan CRC Chairman Laid to Rest

Business Community Mourns For Arif Zarif

Arif Zarif

Arif Zarif

One of the most prominent representatives of the Afghanistan business community was among over 70 people killed in a bomb attack in Baghlan on November 6, 2007. Hajji Muhamad Arif Zarif, Chairman of the Afghanistan Chamber Reform Commission and Member of the National Parliament, was laid to rest in a state ceremony on November 9 in Kabul. Arif Zarif was also Chairman of the parliamentary Economics Committee and owner of several private enterprises. Six of ten members of the Economics Committee were killed in the attack.

The Chamber Reform Commission (CRC), the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC), the Chamber Merger Committee (CMC), and domestic as well as international business membership organizations grieve the loss of an outstanding personality who was strongly yet patiently engaged in uniting and developing the private sector of his country. Arif Zarif devoted much of his time and energy to promote an integrated and independent chamber system for Afghanistan, and he gave his life in a mission to increase public awareness of private sector development projects. All who are left behind are committed to double efforts in achieving his goals and following his visions.

Peace be to his departed spirit!

Lao Chambers’ Development Strategy

LNCCI to Improve Capacity


In session

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.

Participants Group Picture

Participants Group Picture

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 Commerce Dr. 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.

Workshop on CCI Legal Services

China’s New Labor Law and the Law on Arbitration

Workshop SessionAnhui 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.

Opening SpeechesChamber 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.