Chambers of Commerce : Vital ‘Economic Drivers’ of India

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Alpa Antani Author is Sr. Trade and Investment Officer, Consulate general of The Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mumbai. An experienced International Business Professional, she has rich experience in project development and Government relations. She has completed her doctorate in “Perception of the role of a Chamber of Commerce in Enhancing International Trade Relations” considering her enriching association with Chambers of Commerce & Industry.

Indian Government has a Ministry of Commerce & Industry to safeguard the matters related to Commerce & Industry. As these matters are multidimensional, multi-layered, complicated and complex, its issues need to be addressed at various levels. While Ministries look after the well-being of Industry, Chambers of Commerce & Industry act as a watchdog for the industry.

These are not-for-profit organisations, which work in tandem with Government authorities and bodies to strengthen trade scenario in India. They have members drawn from various sectors who lend their expertise and resources to make the ‘Voice of the Industry’ heard at prominent Government levels.

Their role is critical in policy formulations, regulations implementations and removal of trade impediments. These act as a bridge between industry and Central and State Governments for the conduciveness of industrial & trade climate in the country.  Not only this, Chambers have a prominent role in showcasing India as a key investment destination and promotion of International Trade. It won’t be a misnomer to say that they play the role of a catalyst for India’s Industrial, Infrastructure and Economic transformation.

Still, these have their own set of challenges to counter. The most prominent being – the perception. It is perceived that Chambers are primarily event showcase of industry where conferences, seminars and panel discussions, thy second name. Whereas,Chambers take up serious issues, challenge new regulations and taxes etc, which may impact the viability of business and trade.

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The perception ofthe role of various Chambers needs some serious and strategic rethinking. In the past, we have noticed that various interventions like outbound delegations to foreign countries, participation at International Trade Fairs, support and meetings at large scale international eventsand participation at country-specific events provide an excellent platform for member companies to showcase their products and services to an International audience. Many a joint venture in India are the result of efforts, networking and expertise of stalwarts of Industry representing the Chamber.

Thus, creating new business connects and opening doors to fresh B2B connects and knowledge or technological partnerships. Hence, these are an excellent platform for any organization to strengthen its relationship with domestic as well as International Governments.

This way we see that Chambers of Commerce have a major role to play in the economic upliftment and providing a stable economy in the country. They achieve this by giving recommendations for an International trade policy and work towards enhancing International trade relations between countries. They support all this and more with sectoral data and inputs, which their local Governments consider while designing trade policies and for trade negotiations with foreign countries.

Besides, the scope of support received from a Chamber of Commerce is quite vast, particularly concerningVisa regulations, mandatory Local JV composition, Supply Chain Issues, Standards regulations and any other policy matters.

The perception needs to change for this vital arm of Commerce & Industry in India which is there to make a difference to the industrial and commercial environment of India, not just for enhancing the feel-good factor of its members.

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