World Chambers Congress

Sponsoring congress attendance spurs business development worldwide

  • 4 July 2007

From the Hindu Kush to Suleimani, from Lagos to Kampala, chambers of commerce in the developing world play a crucial role in often trying circumstances to lift economic activity, lend support to small businesses, and facilitate international trade.

This year, the U.S. Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have underwritten the attendance of 15 chambers from some of the world’s most nascent economies at the International Chamber of Commerce’s 5th World Chambers Congress.

The congress is being held from 4-6 July at the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Center. A series of 23 workshops will offer practical solutions to chambers of commerce for dealing with the myriad challenges facing modern business. Running alongside the workshops, five plenary sessions focus on how to better manage global risks through closer collaboration between business and government, developing small and medium-sized enterprises, securing future energy supplies, dealing with labor migration, and threats to multilateralism.

Without funding from CIPE and UNDP, individuals from these 15 chambers would not have been able to attend this year’s event to meet their counterparts, share experiences and learn best chamber practices.

Rona Yircali, Chair of the World Chambers Federation, said: “The presence of these chambers enriches this global forum, adding to a rich tapestry of diverse views and experiences. One of the most important outcomes of this congress is the wide array of ideas and solutions offered by chambers from all over the world.”

CIPE, which supplies management and financial support to chambers in developing countries, is providing support for 12 chamber representatives to attend from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Malawi, the Philippines, Nigeria, Peru, Russia, Tanzania and Yemen.

UNDP is financing the participation of chambers from Cameroon, Ghana, the Republic of Congo, South Africa and Uganda.

In a fast-changing business environment, chambers in even the most faraway places must be well-versed in the latest communications technologies, media strategies, and international business methods. Chambers are important building blocks for upgrading business practices and helping countries integrate into the global economy.

Since the first World Chambers Congress was organized in 1999 in Marseille, this type of support has become a regular feature of the biennial event.

This year’s fifth World Chambers Congress has a record attendance of 1,600 chamber of commerce executives and business leaders from 118 countries.

A number of high-level dignitaries are scheduled to address this year’s congress. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially opened the congress this morning. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will deliver a keynote address during the first plenary session on global risks. Nobel prizewinner and microcredit expert Mohammad Yunus will share his experiences at a plenary tomorrow.

Among the other distinguished panelists to appear at this year’s congress are: Victor Fung, Chairman of Li & Fung Group of Investment Companies; Muhtar Kent, President of Coca-Cola Company and Donald Stephenson, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN.

Since its founding, the World Chambers Congress has become the leading place for chamber and business leaders to share experiences and best practices on issues that have a direct impact on the chamber of commerce community. Past congresses took place in Seoul, Quebec City, and Durban. The next congress will be held in Kuala Lumpur in 2009.

This year’s congress is hosted by the World Chambers Federation, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey.