About ICC World Chambers Federation

WCF is a non-political, non-governmental body providing a platform for chamber leaders to connect, inspire and strengthen links among chambers.

Who we are

The ICC World Chambers Federation (WCF) is the forum that connects chambers across borders, creating a better environment for business and MSMEs, and driving prosperity and opportunity for all. 

WCF is ICC’s unique and truly global forum connecting, leading and inspiring the global network of chambers and their respective business communities. As well as strengthening links among chambers, WCF also helps individual chambers become more productive. 

We work for and with chambers through our shared principles — Collaboration, Pioneering, Innovation, Learning, Teamwork and Trust.

The history of chambers movement

The term “chamber of commerce” appeared for the first time, in Marseille, France in 1599. 

Today, chambers of commerce exist in almost every country of the world. 

Chambers of commerce today are as diverse in name as the business communities they represent: chambers of “commerce” and “industry”, also representing “manufacturers”, “entrepreneurship”, “training”, “shipping”, “commodity exchanges”, “agriculture”, etc, to help reflect the communities they serve. 

They can be bilateral as well as community and special interest chamber groups eg. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce, and the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Or also transnational associations of chambers eg Confederation of Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce. 

However, their common goal remains to support business enterprises. Chambers are still the most important type of multi-sectoral business organizations in the world. 

Two basic models prevail: Public law and Private law. 

The “continental or “public law” model, is established and regulated by national legislation. A key characteristic is that under most public law chamber systems, membership is mandatory for all enterprises. 

Public law chambers are generally found on the European continent, as well as French speaking Africa and other former French colonies. Other countries like North Korea, Bhutan, as well as the majority of Arab nations fall under this model. 

The predominant model in the world is the “private law” or “Anglo-Saxon” model originated in Great Britain and spread to other countries influenced by the British tradition. It is also prominent in the Nordic countries. Reflecting the more “laissez faire” economic policies of these nations, chambers are established by the desires and needs of their local business community. These chambers are not created and governed by public statutes, but are established under private law requiring only registration in business or association registers. Private law models are found in Great Britain, other countries of the British Commonwealth, North America, Scandinavia, Belgium and Switzerland. 

While most chambers can be classified as one of these two models, some countries have incorporated features of both systems more compatible with their own political and economic development. Such hydrid models can be found in China, Cuba, Paraguay (as well as other Latin American countries), Singapore and Vietnam. Though established by national legislation, the chambers operate with voluntary membership systems.