Economy

Rooms for Growth

Chambers of Commerce

Beginning with the establishment of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce in 1946, the various chambers of commerce and industry have worked to represent the private sector and coordinate their efforts toward the development of the national economy.

Since the first Chamber of Commerce was established in Jeddah in 1946, the chambers of commerce system in Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in fostering the development of the various regional economies and in connecting these economies to the outside world. Now, under the umbrella of the Council of Saudi Chambers, they also play a significant role in strengthening international trade relations and attracting FDI. As of today, there are 28 separate chambers of commerce and industry throughout the Kingdom, divided into three categories of large, medium and small. These chambers are tasked with representing the business sector and their interests in their respective regions while providing necessary services and also promoting investment.

The 28 individual chambers are also loosely organized under the umbrella of the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC). Based in Riyadh and established by royal decree in March 1980, the Council acts as the sole legitimate representative of the Saudi business sector throughout all the regions and coordinating the various individual chambers and the private sector’s role in the development of the national economy. The CSC also has a primary role of participating in the drafting of key private sector regulations via its membership in national committees such as the Shura Council or the Commission of Experts. Additionally, the CSC is the international representative for the business sector. One of the ways that the CSC fulfills this role is through its membership in over 30 Saudi-foreign joint councils and the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, among many others.

An example of the CSC’s international role would be the Saudi-Hungarian Business Council, which is the most recent Saudi-foreign joint council. It was formed by the CSC-organized second Arab-Hungarian Economic Forum last year. In June of 2015, the CSC welcomed a Hungarian trade delegation featuring Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Levente Magyar to discuss the investment and business opportunities between the two countries. However, the Kingdom’s most prominent individual chambers—particularly the Riyadh, Jeddah and Asharqia Chambers of Commerce and Industry—also play a significant, albeit more regionally specific role, in improving the Kingdom’s trade relations and attracting FDI.

The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), for example, was recently involved in the organization and hosting of the fourth Omani Products Exhibition (OPEX 2015), alongside other entities such as Oman’s Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (ITHRAA). The exhibition attracted over 100 of the top Omani industrial companies to Jeddah, putting them in touch with the region’s businessmen and investors.

Earlier in April, the JCCI hosted a US Congressional delegation, featuring sitting US Congressmen and a number of American businessmen, to further discuss investment and business opportunities within the Jeddah region.
The JCCI is also an avid supporter of the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), the crown jewel of Jeddah’s development projects, and regularly aids KAEC in promoting its numerous investment opportunities. KAEC’s Industrial Valley alone has already attracted planned investments from over 80 local and global private sector companies.

For their part, in June the Asharqia Chamber sent one of the largest delegations to the ninth ICC WCF World Chambers Congress in Torino, Italy. The event featured over 1,600 chambers from across the globe, representing more than 120 different countries. The biannual event is billed as the only international forum for chamber leaders, with the purpose of sharing best-practice experiences and developing networks.
The Asharqia Chamber’s involvement in the World Chambers Congress supplements its other efforts in promoting the Eastern province’s international ties and investment opportunities, such as its recent co-hosting of a German trade delegation alongside the German-Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs (GESALO) earlier in 2015. At the time, the Asharqia Chamber reaffirmed its commitment toward connecting German companies with local partners for joint projects. According to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), over 700 German companies are already operating within Saudi Arabia, amounting to over $8 billion in investments.

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