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History and activities of the Association of Balkan Chambers (ABC)

ABC membership and ABC short history - pdf document
Balkan region information - pdf document

ABC was founded on 21.09.1994 in Mangalia (Romania) at the initiative of the Bulgarian and Romanian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. It is unique in the Balkans history in proving the will of the business community in the region to cooperate even in times of political and economical instability.

The Association of Balkan Chambers is a non-political and non-governmental organisation aiming at assisting the business activities on the Balkans. Its founding members were the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey and Serbia, later joined by Cyprus. Membership is open to all Balkan Chambers who accept its statute.

The Association has no permanent office but is chaired by every member country for one year. Until now, the presidency has been held by Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Cyprus and, in 2002, Albania. In 2003, the presidency shall be in Serbia, and in 2004 – in Bulgaria.

The main priorities of ABC are: development of co-operation among the business communities in the Balkan region, as well as with third parties; encouragement and support of activities aimed to structural changes in the economies of Balkan countries with the view of the accession to EU; initiation and implementation of global interest projects for the Balkan region; representing through the Association of the member Chambers' interests in front of  international bodies; joint participation in EU programmes and other partnership programmes . In the framework of the Stability Pact, in 2000 ABC started a partnership project with the German Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK). The project aims at institutional strengthening of the Association of Balkan Chambers by improving networking activities and supporting individual Chambers in training, SME support, introduction of income generating services, interest representation as well as through other events and activities. The high level of synergies and co-operation achieved under the ABC-DIHK partnership project enable efficient co-operation also in other projects. In the framework of the Southeastern European Cooperation Initiative, the ABC member Chambers support the activities of the national PRO committees, including the Trade and Transport Facilitation in Southeastern Europe project of the World Bank whose website server is in Bulgaria. Some of the main goals are one stop shop payment and introduction of single weight certificate – activities that were possible only due to the unique co-operation efforts of the ABC Chambers.

For achieving of these ambitious goals, ABC has set up the following working groups:

  • trade and industrial co-operation
  • transport
  • infrastructure
  • informatics working group
  • finance, banking and insurance
  • tourism
  • business legislation
  • information and marketing
  • e-commerce

With regard to the challenges of the new technologies and economic globalisation, the ABC Chambers should unite the efforts in vocational training and create a Balkan-wide ABC academy.

ABC Network system

One essential activity of ABC is to ensure the promotion and development of ABC business communities and to facilitate the communication between them by means of  a modern and efficient network information system.

Steps to the ABC Network system

1995- The ABCINFOS system,  dedicated to exchange of business opportunities by fax and by e-mail was initiated by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

1999 -  January – Adoption of  the ABC Network Project and Implementation Protocol (final forms elaborated by Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania and Bucharest – CCIRB )

1999-2000 The Protocol for the ABC Project Implementation was agreed and signed  by all ABC members.

The ABC Network site (www.abcinfos.com), designed, hosted and administrated by CCIRB, is operational starting with March 1999 when  CCIRB released the first operational module: Demand & Offer.

Since then CCIRB has managed and updated the site according to the requirements of the ABC members.

The site www.abcinfos.com provided access to  Country Profiles, Commercial Arbitration, Demands and Offers, information on banks, insurance companies, investments , News.

The main indicator for the utility and effectiveness of the system  is the evolution of monthly hits (accesses) count of the site www.abcinfos.com. The hits count has evolved as follows:

From 2088 hits in March 1999 to 31532  in December  2002 and a  total of 318997 hits in 2002.

Since March  1999 were loaded from 106 countries, 5633 opportunities, of which 2063 just in 2002. The opportunities were accessed 86759 times which yields an average 15 accesses/opportunity.

The New Concept of ABC NETWORK System

The development of the new ABC Network System, required by the continuous growth of demand of information, is supported by the ABC-DIHK Project since 2000.

In  2001 – December – ABC’s General Assembly approved the new Concept  of ABC Network elaborated by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania and Bucharest  and Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The new Concept of ABC specifies the development of a new portal instead of the old site. The new portal was developed and is hosted and administrated  by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania and Bucharest. The first version of the portal was ready for testing in November 2002 and starting with 24 February the new portal (http://www.abcinfos.com) replaced the old site.