Banking & Finance
Chambers of Commerce
Monday، 27 May 2013 12:00 AM
A chamber of commerce is an official institution that has its own resources and supervises trade and investment activities. It is formed to constitute a united and organized body to represent private sector businesses. It connects between traders and authorities concerned over trade and economic activities to solve trade problems. It also follows up the conditions of products on the markets and helps solve problems that hinder the availability of any product.
In 1880 the first chamber of commerce was established in Alexandria, it was an English chamber, in 1884 the Italian chamber of commerce was set up, the French chamber was established in 1892, in 1901 the Greek chamber was set up and the American chamber was established in 1919. They were all established in Alexandria because at that time Alexandria was the trade capital of Egypt.
The Egyptian chamber of commerce was set up in Cairo in 1913. The chamber of commerce system was initiated in the same year.
In 1922, the Egyptian chamber of commerce was established in Alexandria. The activities of the Egyptian chamber in Cairo had been halted due to World War I, then, it was re-formed in 1919, after the1919 Revolution.
The statute of the Egyptian chambers was outlined in 1927 and accordingly chambers were set up in Port Said in 1928, in Assuit in 1933 and in Tanta in 1936.
On 25th October 1951, Law No. 189 was issued and accordingly the current Egyptian chambers of commerce were established.
Formation of the chambers of commerce
The chambers of commerce are established by a decree of the trade minister, in which the chamber's venue, activities and number of its members are specified. The number of members cannot be less than eight or more than 24.
The minister of trade appoints half of the members of each chamber, and the second half of the members are chosen through secret balloting.
Members of chambers
A member of a chamber of commerce should meet the following preconditions:-
- Not to be less than 30 years old
- Can read and write
- Must have been undertaking jobs related to trade or industry for five years, this period is reduced to two years if he has a graduation degree from any university or high institute.
- Must pay annual taxes on his trade or industrial profit, or taxes for real states not less than what law determines.
- Should run in elections and deposit an amount of money set by the law in the related City Hall or directorate's treasury in which the HQ of the chamber is located.
- Should not have been declared bankrupt or convicted of any felony or misdemeanor of theft or hiding of stolen things, or swindling or betrayal of trust or fraud or bribery, or use of forged documents, or false testimony or drug trafficking
- Should not be member of two chambers.
- The chamber could admit, not more than five emeritus members if it held that their assistance is beneficial, and their membership term is one renewable year, they have the right to attend the chamber's sessions if invited and they wouldn't have an accounted-for opinion in deliberations.
- The chamber could have members dispatched to other areas that fall within its field of activity. Their number must not exceed that of the chamber's members, they would attend the sessions of the chamber if invited and they wouldn't have any accounted-for opinion in deliberations.
- The membership term is four years and the member could run for a second term or be appointed after his membership term comes to an end.
- If a seat in the chamber becomes vacant the one who had the highest rate of votes in the previous elections after those who won the elections will take it, if this is not possible then the chamber members will chose from the candidates who meets the membership preconditions after an approval by the trade and industry minister.
The chamber meets at least once a month, its deliberations be valid if more than half of the members attend the meeting. The meeting can be postponed for not less than two days and not more than eight days. The resolutions are issued by absolute majority. If votes are equal then the side that includes the head of the chamber will have its resolution passed.
If the deliberations took place outside the chamber's headquarters or overstepped the limits of its activities, then the deliberation will be invalid. The Minister of Trade and Industry issues a decision invalidating them in 30 days or they will be considered valid.
The minister of trade and industry assigns to the chamber a delegate or more to supervise the implementation of laws and regulations. He must be invited to the meetings of the chamber and he does not have an accounted-for vote.
Ministries could assign one delegate or more to attend the chamber's sessions when there is a matter related to the ministries that are represented. They do not have an accounted-for vote in deliberations.
Rights and duties of members
- Must not combine membership of two chambers.
- Members must not participate in deliberations related to interests for them or any of their family members.
- The member of the chamber must not in personal or as a mediator take part in any contract or tender or supply whatever for the chamber and must not be a party to any sale or rent or borrowing operation.
- The chamber can, when needed, after the trade minister's approval, make deals with one of its members.
- The membership of the chamber is for free.
- Who is proved to abuse the authority, or misuse the chamber's money, his membership will be revoked. He can only be elected after four years from the date of the decision rescinding his membership after the trade and industry minister's approval. Any member, who is absent for three sessions in a row, is considered resigned.
A committee is formed to decide whether the election of the members is right or not and rescinding membership is right or not.
Rights of electing chambers members
Every Egyptian tradesman over the age of 21, who is can read and write and who is listed on the commercial register, has the right to elect members of the geographically-related chamber, where his shop, or any of its branches, is located. The merchant has to pay the set fees and be listed in the chamber's electoral roll in order to be able to vote.
For Egyptian companies that are listed on the commercial register and the chamber's electoral roll, after paying the set fees, have the right to choose an Egyptian partner or an Egyptian manager in any S.A.E to elect any member of the related chamber. The company has the right to choose whom it sees suitable from Egyptian branch managers.
Those who have been declared bankrupt or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor or theft or hiding stolen material, or swindling or betrayal of trust or fraud or use of forged documents or perjury or drug dealing, are banned from voting unless they are acquitted.
Electoral rights are suspended for those whose property are sequestrated or became mentally ill or those held in remand.
Activities of chambers of commerce
The chamber of commerce collects information, statistics that concern trade and industry and catalogues and publishes them, and provides the government with information, data and opinions related to trade and industry issues and determines the trade common trend.
The chamber also gives opinion in the establishment of stock markets, beaches, ports, markets and industrial fairs, and gives rights of privileges related to public utilities.
The chamber presents opinions and proposals to the government in the following issues:
A- Laws, regulations and taxes on trade and industry
B- Customs tariffs
C- Establishing and redirecting transportation routes, fees and charges.
D- Regulations for shops that are considered disturbing and harmful to health.
E- All other matters related to the progress of commerce and industry
Setting up permanent fairs, museums, markets, schools, trade and industrial institutes and other foundations after the approval of the trade and industry minister and according to law and regulations.
Possessing and building establishments needed to be a chamber's premises or for its affiliated facilities and institutes.
Issuing certificates for the origin of Egyptian goods, the nationality of exporters, crop prices and all certificates that the minister of trade and industry permits to be issued and determines the charges of these certificates with an approval of the trade and industry minister.
Makes contacts with other chambers or governmental bodies to get the needed data and information related to its activities.
Forming sections of salesmen who practice the same trade or industry that is related to its activities or other trade and industry activities that are related to each other to observe their joint interests under the supervision of the chamber.
The chamber can form arbitration committees from its members to settle disputes that are presented to it after an agreement with the parties concerned.
Prohibited activities by chambers of commerce
The chambers of commerce must not work in speculations or acts that are harmful to the market or political or religious issues and must not provide any help, aid, or mediation to political parties.
Financial resources of the chambers of commerce
- Annual charges that every tradesman or company or any shop or market or a branch that is determined according to the category set by the minister of trade and industry.
- Charges of the certificates issued by the chamber.
- Government subsidies
- Gifts, bequests and revenues of endowments and others
- Revenues of enterprises or other facilities affiliated to the chamber or any other revenues.
- The chamber can only get a loan after permission of the trade and industry minister. This permission is not considered a guarantee on part of the government.
The budget of the chamber of commerce
The chamber of commerce outlines a total budget for its revenues and expenditure then presents it to the minister of trade and industry before the beginning of the fiscal year by three months. A decision of approval by the minister is issued within three months since presenting the budget. Otherwise, the chamber has the right to work according to with the previous year's budget.
The chamber has to outline the final account for financial management of the previous year within three months at most since the end of the fiscal year, and a decision by the minister of trade and industry is issued approving it.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry could review the accounts of the chamber and inspect its affiliated utilities.
Cooperation among chambers of commerce
Every chamber of commerce has the right, after an approval of the minister of trade and industry, to join another chamber in establishing or administering any business that benefits the places that are part of its activities.
Chambers can be a federation that can pursue common interests. It is set up by a decision including all rules related to its formation, administration, finances and relation with other chambers of commerce.
Commercial sections could be set up in the Federation to coordinate trade relations between Egypt and other countries.
The foreign country representative can attend the section's meeting.
Disbanding chambers of commerce
The chamber can be dissolved by a decree explaining the reasons of the dissolution if it carried out any of the activities that are banned by the law.
New chamber members should be elected within three months maximum after dissolving the chamber. The trade and industry minister assigns a committee to manage the affairs of the chamber till a new one is formed.
The chambers are regulated through general rules. Each chamber has its own internal rules outlined by a decree from the trade minister.
The general rules of the chambers of commerce were issued on 18 August 1953.
On 16 March 1955 a decree by the cabinet was issued to form the federation of the chambers of commerce.
On 24 May 1958 decree No. 453 was issued by the president to form chambers of industry. On 24 May 1958 presidential decree No. 452 was issued regulating the industries federation.
On 1 December 1958 ministerial decree No. 514 was issued including the basic joint rules of chambers of industry.
The Federation of Egyptian Chamber of Commerce
** The federation is the supreme agency and coordinator of efforts of all chambers of commerce and business organizations where it has a legal personality as the legitimate representative for the chambers of commerce and all organizations before public authorities and foreign regional or international organizations.
The Federation could participate in: -
** Conferences, economic seminars, exhibitions, organizing trade delegations, foreign promotion missions, signing of bilateral agreements and establishing joint business councils with other countries.
** Undertaking commercial arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the law, and establishing specific quality sections and forming a national committee of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris along with encouraging the establishment of exhibitions, participation in economic and trade decision-making with the competent authorities.
FEDCOC objectives and strategy
1 - Having a clear vision and specific goals
• Contributing actively to the modernization and development of internal trade
• Federation's role in export development and promotion.
• Spreading awareness in and rehabilitation of the commercial sector to deal with the latest developments and challenges on the local markets and providing the necessary information for anyone who would like to deal with them.
• Promoting the investment climate which encourages national capital and foreign investment in Egypt.
• Contributing to upgrading the competitiveness of businesses especially small and medium-sized ones and rehabilitation of human resources needed to manage them.
• Highlighting the importance of the role of business community and its contribution to economic and social development to provide more understanding public opinion of the reality and conditions of men of trade and to improve the image of businessmen in the community in general.
• Seeking to bestow any chamber of commerce with confidence and respect of all governmental bodies and NGOs in its capacity as an entity eligible to participate in all industrial, trade and economic decision-making.
2 - Seeking the development of the concept of institutional work inside the chambers and the federation.
* building strong links between the chambers and their members in various categories and sectors. This requires activating the role of business sections and developing their activities and services.
* Establishing systems and traditions of work and values that are consistent with the nature of the work of the chambers as services and guidance agencies
* Building upgraded executive bodies that have the necessary powers to maintain the continuity of the chambers
* Confirming the membership link between the chambers and the federation on the basis that each of them draws its strength from the other
3 - Striving to achieve the concept of excellence and quality performance
4 - Following the policy of openness to all local and international business events
5 – Regulating markets and upgrading the level of commercial services
Code of Conduct
Article No. 42 of Law No. 6 for the year 2002 on Chambers of Commerce approved the inherent right of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce to outline a code of conduct for the vocation of trade after consulting the Chambers of Commerce.
Given the developments in the local and regional arena and changes in the methods and principles and commercial laws, both at the national or global levels and the expansion of the role that trade plays in the broad sense, to serve the Egyptian citizen and to support the national economy;
This code of conduct was issued after consulting the Chambers of Commerce.
Code of Conduct
The vocation of trade:
The vocation of trade in this Code is meant to be the trade in the broad sense: purchase with the intention of selling for any goods or services whether after introducing amendments to these goods or services or not.
The tradesman has the honor to practice this profession, and pledges to God and the homeland, to observe God and his fellow people in the exercise of his work, and to work for providing goods and services at their best shape, and at the appropriate price and deliver them to the consumer in the right place at the right time,
The merchant is committed to the following: -
First: towards the citizens:
- Not to promote bad goods or deal with them in secret or public.
- Steering away from fraud or deceit on citizens.
- Not to set high prices and big profit margins.
- Not to resort to monopoly of goods, or take advantage of crises or make these crises.
- Avoid speculation that is harmful to markets and citizens and national economy.
- Maintaining the rights of consumers which have been summed up in the rights to (justice – choice and security).
Second: toward his colleagues: -
- Adhering to the rules of fair competition and fostering a spirit of cooperation and friendliness with fellow traders.
- Meeting financial and contractual obligations with his colleagues, and with banks and financial institutions without any delay.
- Keenness to be fair while demanding his rights owed by his fellow tradesmen and not to prejudice them.
Third: towards the community:
- Not to promulgate rumors which would destabilize economic and social security and stability of the country
- Adhering to the vision and strategy of the State in the field of development and management of national economy
- Commitment to disclosing activities within the legal frameworks of trade.
- Not to exploit his position or political contacts with officials to achieve illegal interests or objectives
- Compliance with the rules, regulations and systems which govern commercial activities
- Be prompt to pay the rights of the treasury regarding taxes and duties without delay or evasion and not to smuggle
Rules of practicing trade:
Without violating any penalties or criminal, civil or disciplinary sanctions stipulated by laws and regulations that are considered a violation of texts contained in this Code, or violation of rules common between merchants, or any action that affects the fairness of business, or harm in any form the ideal role that should be played by the tradesman, sanctions against a tradesman include the following:
- Warning of cancelling certificate of practicing trade
- Cancelling certificate of practicing trade and then writing off name from the commercial register.