American Chambers of Commerce, traditionally referred to as AmChams, are formed to advance the interests of American overseas businesses through advocacy, information, networking and business support services.
There are currently 118 AmChams in 105 countries affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that strive to develop mutually beneficial social and commercial relations between American companies and those of the host country.
Through seven regional organizations in Africa; Americas; East Asia and Pacific; Eurasia; Europe; Middle East, Egypt and Turkey; and South Asia, the AmChams represent the concerns and interests of the business community at the highest levels of government.
My first exposure to AmChams came in 1972 when I was asked to come to an AmCham breakfast while posted in Japan. A visiting American company wanted to talk to Americans "living and working on the ground," so we could answer questions about doing business in Japan.
Meetings like these allow companies to learn about the challenges they will face while doing business in a particular country. By giving useful operating tips, which can save time, money and headaches, AmChams, with services like breakfast briefings, allow companies to get the greatest return on their overseas enterprises. I have lead delegations of American businessmen around the globe, and I used these informal yet informative breakfast briefings to great advantage.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) has offices in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, and represents over 3,000 members from 600 companies and 40 countries. It serves as the primary forum for the U.S. business community in Japan to identify and pursue common interests and goals.
The ACCJ meets on a regular basis to discuss issues and exchange ideas and information on topics relevant to specific industries and professions. Its committees organize more than 500 events and seminars annually on policy and business trends in Japan.
AmCham China represents U.S. companies and individuals doing business in China and has more than 4,000 members from 900 companies. Across its five offices, AmCham China has more than 30 working groups and holds more than 150 events each year.
Additional AmCham objectives include:
- Promote the two-way flow of trade and investment between the U.S. and their respective host countries.
- Provide information on trade and business activities to its members.
- Speak up for the needs of its members before government in Washington and the host country.
- Enhance the standing of its members in the local and international community.
- Encourage public understanding of the role of business in a competitive market system.
- Create a business-friendly environment between members, policy-makers and business leaders in the host country working to identify common problems in normal business operations and achieve mutually-beneficial solutions.
The International Affairs Division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce improves the ability of U.S. businesses to compete in the global marketplace by providing its members valuable tools and resources, as well as cutting-edge events that bring world leaders to its members.
This article was first published in July 2010 and has been updated to include current information, links and formatting.