chamber of commerce
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chamber of commerce,local association of business people organized to promote the welfare of their community, especially its commercial interests. Each chamber of commerce usually has an elected board of directors, and its work is done through committees. Among the activities frequently carried on by these committees are industrial surveys and efforts to attract new industries to the city, the provision of information and advice to government on topics ranging from labor disputes to taxes, and the promotion of tourism in cities.
The chambre de commerce of Marseilles (1599) was the first organization to use the name; the idea spread through France in the 17th and 18th cent. The first to be formed in Great Britain was on the island of Jersey (1768). In America the first was the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, organized in 1768. By 1870 there were 40 throughout the United States.
The local chambers are federated in the United States Chamber of Commerce (founded 1912), which maintains at its Washington, D.C., headquarters a technical staff and lobbies in the interests of its member organizations. Its membership includes 3 million companies, 3,000 state and local chapters, and 830 business associations; American chambers are located in 82 foreign countries, and those of other countries have offices in the United States. The International Chamber of Commerce (founded 1920) promotes open international trade and investment. Its headquarters are in Paris.
See also trade associationtrade association,
group of business people in the same trade or industry organized for the advancement of common interests. The trade association differs from the chamber of commerce in that membership is by industry rather than by locality.
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Chamber of Commerce
a public organization that facilitates the development of economic and particularly foreign-trade relations among various countries. In each country, a statute defines the legal status of the chamber of commerce and regulates its administrative bodies and executive functions.
In addition to the national chambers of commerce, there are also joint chambers for the mutual business relations of two countries—for example, the Czechoslovak-Soviet, Italo-Soviet, Russo-British, Finno-Soviet, and Franco-Soviet chambers of commerce.
In the socialist countries, chambers of commerce organize national trade fairs and participate in international ones; they issue certificates of origin for commodities, inspect the quality of commodities, and provide for the arbitration of disputes arising from foreign trade transactions.
In the capitalist countries, the chamber of commerce joins together a given country’s trade and industrial circles. Its functions include compiling information about conditions and trends in trade and industry and about potential markets, as well as keeping members informed on the economic situation. With regard to legal status, the chambers of commerce in the capitalist countries may be private associations based on voluntary membership (the “private-sector” type) or organizations that are governmental in nature (the “public-sector” type). Monopolistic associations make wide use of chambers of commerce in their own interest.
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), founded in 1920, is an international nongovernmental association of business circles and individual firms from 88 countries (as of 1975). Its principal goals are the improvement of trade conditions between various countries and the solution of international economic problems. The ICC has its headquarters in Paris. Representatives of the chambers of commerce of the USSR, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, the Hungarian People’s Republic, the Polish People’s Republic, the Socialist Republic of Rumania, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, and the German Democratic Republic attend ICC congresses as observers; they also participate in the work of a special committee on relations between the ICC and the chambers of commerce of the socialist countries.