The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the legendary institution in the Asia Pacific region, reaches another milestone on 25 March, 2011 by completing 172 years of exemplary service to the business community in Sri Lanka.
When CCC was founded on 25 March, 1839 under the British Rule, the Coffee industry took precedence over the current prime commodity ‘Tea’ which has now excelled as the leading export commodity in Sri Lanka. The agriculture based services provided by the CCC to its members, gradually elevated to value added services.
Over a period of years, CCC which plays a catalytic role in the development of the business sector, changed its focus on identifying key issues to assist in the development of strategic plans to meet new challenges and opportunities. With the close rapport maintained with the Government sector, the CCC continued to strengthen its role as a channel between the Government and the Private sector.
You may pose a question on how the CCC services differ from the other chamber services. Commencing from the aspect of its identity, CCC is the only Chamber in south Asia with BSENISO 9001:2000 quality Management System Certification and works towards its vision of being the Benchmark Chamber of Commerce in the Asia Pacific Region.
Another factor which adds to its credit is, it has been instrumental in the establishment of several key institutions such as the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon in 1927, The Mercantile Service Provident Society in 1939, The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors in 2000 and Indo Lanka Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2006, to name a few.
The 21 Bi-lateral Councils covering Australia/New Zealand, Africa, Britain, Benelux, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Maldives, Nordic, Pakistan, The Middle East, Poland, Russia and Singapore which were formed by the Chamber and functions under the aegis of the CCC, focus mainly on promotion of trade, investment, joint ventures, tourism and services between Sri Lanka and the relevant country.
CCC, being the first Chamber to be established in Sri Lanka, is the prime mover of the Chamber movement in Sri Lanka. It was also the first Chamber to be represented in the Senate and House of Representatives in the days of Ceylon, first to be accepted as an affiliate member of Confederation of Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce & Industry (CACCI) in 1983.
A few other services which were the first of its kind to be introduced by the CCC are:
nIssuance of Certificates of Origin in 1925
nIntroduction of e-Cos, Conduct of Commodity auctions (tea, rubber, spices and allied products) from 1894, gem auctions in 1980
nServices provided by Measurers, Surveyors, Assessors, Arbitration/Conciliation and Mediation services
nThe first Sri Lankan export exhibition was organised by the CCC in 1973
nInitiated the First Export Awards scheme in association with the then Export Promotion Secretariat
nFormation of Bilateral Business Councils in 1979
nLaunching of CSR awards in 2004
nGlobal Standard One (GS1) – which is the world’s most accepted standard for supply chain management, bringing bar-coding standards to Sri Lanka. The CCC is the sole authorised body in Sri Lanka to operate the GS1 Standards system
Moreover, CCC has the unique feature of a Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, trade associations, regional chambers, employer organisations and bilateral business councils in Sri Lanka. The CCC claims this status having formed alliances with 20 regional chambers, 38 trade/product and service associations and 21 bilateral business councils.
The CCC Trade Fair Unit which was established in 2002 as the trade promotion wing of the chamber, through business promotion missions assists members to penetrate, diversify and establish links with overseas markets, whilst promoting expansion of trade and investment. Since its inception, the unit has led missions to 34 potential and untapped markets which have led to the participating delegates obtaining confirmed orders.
The SAARC Trade Information Project is jointly implemented by the SAARC Information Centre (SIC) and Germany Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in collaboration with 26 leading national partners from both the private and public sectors in all eight SAARC nations.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is a national partner of the SAARC Trade Promotion Network and is the leading Network Partner of the Working Group SAARC Trade Information Portal (SAARC TIP). This portal is an easy accessible trade database for traders including SMEs by connecting existing databases within the SAARC countries to a common SAARC entry point for trade information.
The National Agribusiness Council is the latest affiliate of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and is housed at the Chamber premises – bringing yet another key aspect of the economy under our network.
The Ceylon Chamber also supports regional chambers to contribute more to the national economy — a key initiative taken in this regard is the regional Chambers meeting hosted at the Chamber, where regional issues are brought out and directed to the appropriate channels.
CCC having instituted CCC Solutions (Pvt) Ltd., which began on a firm foundation as a specialised arm to concentrate solely on projects, has been able to contribute immensely to enrich the overall profile of the Chamber.
There are three main projects under the purview of this unit, two funded by the European Union and the other by the Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation (NORAD) programme. The primary objectives of these programmes are to promote Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in the Food and Beverage Sectors, assist the Hotel Sector in greening and the final one being Business Matchmaking with Norwegian companies.
The CORE project (Connecting of Regional Economies) is a USAID project with CCC as the strategic partner to lead the workforce development strategy which was one of the five components structured under this very laudable initiative.
Youth Business Sri Lanka (YBSL) programme is the district expansion of the Hambantota Youth Business Trust (HYBT) which commenced in 1991. Implemented in 40 countries and modelled after the Youth Business International of UK, youth business programmes support youth to be successful entrepreneurs.
Today the CCC comprises over 500 members with an outreach of over 3500 organisations covering the entire spectrum of the business community. CCC members enjoy a range of benefits. In addition to the above, the Chamber provides the following services:
nSecretarial services to sector associations
nRegistration of Commercial documents,
nOrganising Trade Fairs/Exhibitions and events through its Event Management Unit
nCustomised research reports
nBusiness opportunities/Trade promotion bulletins
nResolution of commercial disputes.
CCC is spearheaded by Dr. Anura Ekanayake, Chairman; Susantha Ratnayake, Vice Chairman and Suresh Shah, Deputy Vice Chairman; Jayampathi Bandaranayake, Immediate Past Chairman. The Secretariat is led by Harin Malwatte, Secretary General/CEO and Alikie Perera, Deputy Secretary General, and is supported by a highly competent and qualified staff.
“We invite our members and the business community to visit us and familiarise themselves with the range of services provided by us. To get an insight into what we provide, log on to our website www.chamber.lk,” Malwatte stated.
Membership is open to all businesses registered in Sri Lanka. The present membership covers every field of business activity in Sri Lanka and every size of business from sole proprietorship, SMEs, conglomerates to the multinationals. The Chamber of Commerce is unique in its history, its traditions, its credibility, its membership, its talent base, its potential and, most importantly, in the role it plays in the economy and contemporary Sri Lankan society.