Businessmen and entrepreneurs on a local level create chambers of commerce for the purpose of safeguarding their interests. Most chambers serve a specific town or city.
Chambers include an executive council set up by the members through election. This administrative body is responsible for the day to day operations of the chamber.
Chambers of commerce serve a variety of purposes including:
- Advancement of trade in their own cities or towns
- Establishment of uniformity in wages, hours, and prices
- Strengthening municipal rules and regulations for the commercial interest of their localities
- Resolving disputes between members with the help of arbitration
- Gathering statistics and information pertinent to members
The number of memberships in a chamber of commerce is variable; important chambers of commerce, such as that of Paris, have a huge number of members.
Chambers of commerce can be placed into the following levels:
- City or town
The worldwide business membership models of chambers of commerce fall into two groups:
- Compulsory/public law chambers: According to compulsory or public law chambers, companies of a specific region are bound to take the membership of the chamber. This model is usually followed in the European Union in countries such as Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. Their principal operations include training, promotion of international trade, and provision of various services to the companies.
- Continental/private law chambers: According to continental or private law chambers of commerce, a company's membership is not required, but encouraged through recruiting efforts by the chamber. This model is prevalent in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.