Everything you need to know about the Italian Chamber of commerce
Let’s start from the beginning. A chamber of commerce, sometimes called a board of trade, is a business network which generally consists of business firms that belong to different industries or trades. They act and associate voluntarily, most often serving as spokespeople and representatives for the larger business community. With this in mind, let’s move on and take a look at the Italian Chamber of Commerce before seeing some of its differences with the American Chamber of Commerce.
Italian Chamber of Commerce: what is it?
First off, Italy, like many other members of the European Union, use a model based on compulsory or public law chambers. This is an entity that all enterprises, sole proprietorships and companies must register with. The main tasks include promoting foreign trade with Italian companies, vocational training, and regional economic development which can include promoting specific businesses, especially for newer members. Otherwise, they also provide general services to their members by studying local economic data to provide relevant information to business owners.
In order to manage themselves effectively, the chambers of commerce were given some responsibilities regarding public administration in various fields by the state. This means that the chambers are a public institution and in Italy are separated with respect to the various regions. Additionally, whenever a new law that is related to industry or commerce is proposed, the chambers must be consulted.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The United States has many chambers of commerce which can be thought of in terms of community, city, regional, state, or nationwide with each chamber working at that level. For example, city chambers work locally in order to develop strong local networks, bringing the business community together to increase the rate of business-to-business exchange. The chambers generally work with their local government or city council to develop pro-business initiatives. In the next section, we’ll look at one of the bilateral chambers of commerce, the Italy-America Chamber which links the business environments of two countries. These bilateral chambers exist between Italy and many other countries.
Along with the UK, Canada and many of the Scandinavian countries, the United States utilizes a private model. This means that companies are not obligated to become chamber members, the complete opposite of Italy in this regard. Many companies still choose to become members in order to develop their business contacts since the chamber is excellent in terms of networking and to demonstrate a strong commitment to the development of a local economy. Regarding consultation, and again, unlike Italy, the governments of states that use a private model are not required to consult chambers on proposed laws. In this situation the chambers are still, in most cases, contacted given their level of influence and number of members—they are voters, too, afterall.
Needless to say, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce remains the world’s largest business organization. Let’s take a look at an example of a bilateral chamber.
The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce
After having said that each country has a chamber of commerce (or multiple chambers), we can look at a more unique situation. The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce, which has been around since 1877, is a private organization, representing the interests of companies interested in establishing business and/or commercial relations between the United States and Italy through contact and interaction with government agencies, trade associations and various international organizations. As a member of Assocamerestero, which is Italy’s world association of bi-national chamber, the IACC is also affiliated with the U.S.Chamber of Commerce as well as the European-American Chamber of Commerce.
Are there any benefits from joining a chamber of commerce?
Yes, given that chamber members will often offer discounts to one another as a way of promoting each other. As mentioned before, it also provides an opportunity for marketing and networking while at the same time, adding—in voluntary associations—to the credibility of a business. For example, if you are hosting an event, you can check with local restaurants who happen to be members since they may give a discount for the services.
For more info about this topic check also our import and export guide, how to export to Italy, and how to open a business in Italy.
Lastly check our video on how to avoid paying VAT when trading with Italy.
After moving back to Italy from the United States in 2013, I realized how much an accounting and tax firm was needed to help expats living in Italy to comply with the local tax regulations.