During this year’s annual conference, the 41 members of SwissCham, a global network of close to 10,000 companies in more than 100 countries, completed a survey regarding their services and their members’ needs to cope with ever increasing challenges in a complex local and international trade environment.
The Swiss bilateral chambers of commerce promote, protect and represent the interests of businesses of all sizes and sectors between Switzerland and specific countries and are a vital economic and cross-cultural bridge. All of them are non-governmental, non-profit institutions, which is a unique asset but also presents challenges.
The latter include constant financial restraints, lack of sufficient or access to government supported funds, diminishing income from sponsoring, dependency on volunteer entities, all of which put the chambers’ long-term planning and stability under pressure.
On the asset side, the benefits for members are manifold. The chambers lobby to promote legislation that is favourable to businesses. In political turbulence, a non-profit, independent, non-political institution stands for continuity of relationships and has more chances to organise successful new activities. And, by working closely with other economic and business organisations and institutions, they shape the value and role of business in our society today.
The survey shows that services vary in range and depth of specialisation. Companies become members to develop their business contacts, but also to demonstrate a commitment to the local economy. And, though governments are not required to consult chambers, they are often contacted, given the local influence and unified voice of the business community of the bilateral chamber.
Chambers operate long-term and have a unique know-how and deep understanding of the target market, the bilateral business needs, practices and intercultural issues. They are pragmatic, service-oriented and cost-effective and a great source for second advice. And, by offering practical, complementary services and access to a local network of trusted partners and contacts, they save valuable time and money and help companies minimise the risk of failure and increase the chances of success.
Some key-services include:
• Seminars, workshops and roundtable discussions and contacts with companies, distributors and key stakeholders as well as platforms for young professionals.
• Trade promotion programme, including organising or hosting overseas missions and Swiss pavilions at foreign trade shows.
• Programmes for promoting the image of Switzerland as an ideal business location or tourism destination.
• Legal services and support in customs matters and more.
Have a look at the members of SwissCham and join the chamber(s) that may be helpful to you!