Exporters often think of chambers of commerce only in terms of signing certificates of origin. But there are other services and programs that chambers of commerce provide to assist you in your export process.
Business savvy managers utilize chambers of commerce routinely to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their international business.
The Origin of the Chamber of Commerce
The World Chambers Federation (WCF) was established by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 1951 to be the advocate of its chamber of commerce members worldwide. The WCF is a non-political, non-governmental body representing the interests of all local, national, regional, bilateral and transnational chambers of commerce and industry.
The WCF seeks to strengthen and improve performance as well as discover new products and services to offer their members. Because chambers are recognized locally and globally by government agencies and businesses alike, the WCF provides a universal platform and forum to standardize and facilitate international business transactions. Incoterms come to mind as a premier ICC function.
Certificates of Origin
Chambers are the recognized source for signing certificates of origin (CO). The CO verifies the country in which the goods were manufactured. Some nations restrict imports from certain countries; many countries limit the quantity of goods that are allowed to be imported or give preference to goods manufactured in the United States.
The CO requires the authorized signature of the local chamber of commerce secretary and the seal of that organization. Virtually every country in the world considers the origin of imported goods when determining what duty will be assessed on the goods, or in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all. In most countries, chambers of commerce are the key agent in the delivery of certificates of origin.
The role of chambers of commerce delivering certificates of origin can be traced back to the 1923 Geneva Convention relating to the Simplification of Customs Formalities. Under the Convention, its signatory governments were obliged to make the process and procedures as simple as possible for companies requiring certificates of origin.
Due to the widespread network of the chamber of commerce community in nearly all countries around the world, its facility and ease, and the respected reputation of serving the business community, in most countries chambers of commerce issue certificates of origin.
Assisting in Economic Growth
The chamber's goal in international business is to generate job growth and economic development. Chamber programs seek to promote economic growth by assisting local businesses to expand into international markets.
Throughout the year, local chambers present various seminars for businesses to assist with exporting their products. Some of these seminars are country specific while others are industry specific. Other training seminars cover the mechanics of exporting such as financing, locating distributors, methods of payment, export documentation, and transportation.
American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams) advance the interest of American businesses overseas through advocacy, information, networking and business support services. I discuss AmChams in more detail in my article, AmChams Advance the Interests of American Businesses Overseas.
We've written several articles about the role chambers of commerce play in the export process. Check out these articles:
- The Chamber of Commerce and Export Documents: The Certificate of Origin
- The Chamber of Commerce Role in Exporting
- Utilizing Chambers of Commerce and Trade Consulates to Help Minimize International Trade Risk