The Italian Foreign Chambers of Commerce (IFCC) and Assocamerestero
The Italian Foreign Chambers of Commerce (IFCC) were founded as the result of the extensive presence of entrepreneurs of Italian origin in many countries - the first Chamber was founded in Montevideo in 1883 - a presence that over the passage of time has strengthened to a point of reaching, in some cases, a high degree of prominence.
The IFCC are private associations of local as well as Italian companies, fully integrated in the business reality of the country where they operate and for this reason capable of effectively introducing Italian companies wishing to search, promote and conclude collaborative operations in commercial and industrial fields.
The presence in many countries of a business community of Italian origin "deeply rooted" in the local territory furthers and decisively augments this role of link between supply and demand.
Today there are 60 IFCC in 38 countries with an organized territorial network which includes over 100 delegations.
In 1997 the aggregate budget of the IFCC in the world was more than 30 billion lira, mostly derived from services provided to private companies, consultation fees and membership dues, as well as from a small contribution from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Trade.
Among the more prominent activities of members of the IFCC world-wide the more prominent are: commerce (31%), industry (28%), services (21%), agribusiness (95%), transportation (3,5%) and craftsmanship (5%). In absolute terms, the number of consumers of Chambers services by both private enterprise and trade association 1997 was more then 80,000. Lately Assocamerestero and the IFCCs have concentrated considerable efforts in the development of their communication network.
IFCC communications take place on two levels: internally within the network and externally.
Internal network communications are accomplished by making the best use of the available information technologies to overcome the constraints of time and space that a world-wide system involves.
The Internet for internal use is currently being added to these technologies in order to facilitate and enhance both information sharing and broader group interaction within the IFCC network and, by extension, between them and the Chambers in Italy.
External communication, on the other hand, consists of the output of the IFCC system in terms of information which is distributed through specific publications, TV/Radio stations and, soon, through the Internet.
Every IFCC in fact publishes a monthly magazine, or at least a newsletter, in Italian and/or the local language. The last statistics show that the IFCC network produces 32 publications (many of which are monthly) as well as about 20 newsletters and bulletins.
Services offered by the Italian Foreign Chambers of Commerce:
- Lists of companies (company name, address, telephone, fax) selected by categories and sectors: importers, exporters, wholesale distributors, representative agents, trading companies, department stores, etc.
- Specific company information acquired through local specialized agencies
- Publication of business opportunities in the Chamber publications Mailing of catalogues, price lists, etc. accompanied by a letter of introduction on Chamber letterhead
- Direct market researches conducted by the Chamber concluding with a list of potential partners Legal and fiscal consultancy for the completion of a contract for representation, distribution, production, etc.
- Organization of meetings with local businessmen Interpreters and translations Office facilities: telephone, fax, secretarial assistance
- Credit retrieval assistance or list of companies offering the service
- Value added tax (VAT) reimbursement in countries where applicable
- Arbitration assistance, where possible Information on local laws, custom duties, taxation, etc.
- Statistics on local economy
- Other services which are offered on request include the organization of seminars, conferences, economic missions...
- Other services are individually offered by the different Chambers
Assocamerestero (the Association of the Italian Foreign Chambers of Commerce) was created, in 1987, to enhance the role and the operativity of the Chambers network; and to represent them, at both a national and international level, vis-à-vis government bodies, private institutions and trade associations.
Today, thanks to Assocameres growth strategy, where the information technologies play a major role, the number of Chambers has doubled to 60 since 1987, and their members now exceed 27.000.
Finally, Assocamerestero closely monitors the creation of new Chambers in areas of economic and political strategic interest and gives support to newly founded or restructuring Chambers.