The establishment of several new international commerce chambers recently has highlighted the growing number of Chambers of Commerce currently active within the Kingdom, but what are they and what do they actually do?
What is a Chamber of Commerce?
A chamber of commerce is an association or network of businesspeople designed to promote and protect the interests of the members. Generally, chambers are made up of business owners that share a locale, or common interests. Chambers can be regional, national, and international in scope. Corporate make-up, leadership, and representation vary depending on the chamber.
From an international perspective chambers of commerce exist in almost all countries of the world. Their primary function is to promote business exchanges between the countries they represent and the host country they are in.
They are technically at least apolitical and do not have a direct role in creating laws, or regulations, but in reality, often work closely with embassies and government ministries and are often successful in influencing regulators and legislators with their organized lobbying efforts.
Generally, chambers of commerce represent sovereign nations, but can also represent bodies such as the European Union, or non-sovereign entities such as Hong Kong which have a high degree of autonomy despite not being independent states. To read more about Non-Governmental Organizations in Cambodia click here.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce
Chambers of commerce within Cambodia were first legalized in 1995 with the foundation of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce as a not-for-profit voluntary organization.
In 2005, Cambodia established its own ‘Cambodian Chamber of Commerce’ (CCC) with a nationwide network of 18 Municipal-Provincial Chamber of Commerce. To read more about the CCC economic outlook for Cambodia click here.
International Chambers of Commerce in Cambodia – Who is here?
There are several Chambers of Commerce in Cambodia representing four continents, namely North America, Europe, Australasia, and of course Asia. Association of South East Asian Nations ASEAN) countries.
Most major economies are also represented including the United States, the European Union, Australia, the UK, and of course China which has more than one body representing different industries. Size and level of success are hard to measure or gauge, but some are certainly more important and effective than others.
- EuroCham – EuroCham is the largest chamber in terms of membership with 280 members. The British Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (BritCham), the Franco-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCFC), and the German Business Group Cambodia (ADW) were the main driving force in setting up the organization in 2011 to represent the European Union as a whole. They currently represent 22 European EU countries, as well as having members from the UK.
- IBC – International Business Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia established in 1993 initially as “The Corporate Club” and is one of the oldest Business Associations in Cambodia which is not nationally or sectoral based, and includes prominent Cambodian Businesses as well as International Companies. The chamber welcomes business owners from all nationalities and sectors and has over 120 members.
- French Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFC) – Works closely with EuroCham, but also independently due to the colonial historical ties between France and Cambodia.
- The Italian Cambodian Business Association (ICBA) launched the “Italy in Cambodia” project in 2021.
- AmCham – The American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia is the chamber of commerce for the United States of America. They were one of the first chambers in the country being formed in 1996 and currently has more than 210 members. To read more about AmCham record membership drive click here.
- CanCham – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia is much smaller than the American one, but is tailored for Canadian companies.
- JBAC – (Japanese Business Association of Cambodia) was the first main chamber being established in 1992. They are not to be confused with JETRO, which performs a similar function but is also an arm of the Japanese government. To read our interview with JETRO click here. AusCham – The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (AusCham Cambodia) was established under the moniker of ABAC (The Australian Business Association of Cambodia) in the 90s and is one of the most active chambers in the country with over 100 members and strong connections to the Australian Embassy.
- KoCham Cambodia (Korean Chamber of Commerce Cambodia) – Established in 2007 and not only one of the most important chambers they represent the Republic of Korea (South Korea) rather than the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea).
- ICC – The Indian Chamber of Commerce was set up as an information center for Indians wishing to do business within Cambodia. One of the smaller chambers.
- ASEAN Chambers of Commerce in Cambodia.
- MBCC – The Malaysian Business Chamber of Cambodia is one of the oldest chambers having been operating since 1993. It changed its name from the Malaysian Business Chambers of Cambodia to the MBCC in 2019.
- TBCC – The Thai Business Council in Cambodia is made up of Thais who reside in Cambodia, or who have done business here for a long time to help guide businesses or investors wishing to trade in the Kingdom.
- PhilCham – The Philippine Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia was set up in January 2021 and is one of the newest chambers within the Kingdom.
- IndoCham – The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce was also inaugurated in 2021, but has since become one of the most active chambers. They have almost 50 members and recently hosted a collaboration of chambers golf tournament. To read more about IndoCham click here.
Chinese Chambers of Commerce in Cambodia
China operates a number of chambers including the Cambodia Henan General Chamber of Commerce, the Textile Enterprise Association of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Association in Cambodia, as well as the China Chamber of Commerce opened in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ).
KBAC – Hong Kong Business Association of Cambodia works autonomously of the chambers representing the People’s Republic of China and promotes business ties with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR).
The future of Chambers of Commerce in Cambodia and collaboration
While in previous years many have speculated there is an oversupply of international Chambers of Commerce in Cambodia this has not slowed the increasing number nor the overall memberships rising year on year.
Most now anticipate more international chambers to be established representing the various countries with embassies in Cambodia as well as more collaboration between each chamber through holding cross chamber events and uniting to assist in developing policy recommendations for government. To read more about chamber collaboration click here.