On 9th October 2023 Catalan businessman Josep Santacreu i Bonjoch was elected president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce with the support of a large majority of the organisation’s Plenary members.
Josep Santacreu and his team will lead the Chamber for a 4-year period following the milestone of restoring its reputation and value, as well as spreading the mission and functions of the Chamber among businesspeople. “We want to make it the best Chamber of Commerce in the World”, stated Mr. Santacreu.
The strategy of the Executive Committee headed by the new elected president is based in 4 main pillars: representation, influence, effectivity, and independence.
Among the axis of this strategy, the Chamber’s team will focus on aspects such as sustainability, innovation and research, industry, corporate culture and responsibility, internationalisation, and infrastructure investment for economic development.
What is the Chamber? A brief history
Chambers of Commerce are long-tradition organisations in Catalonia that have their origins in the old associations of traders, industrialists, and shipbuilders. In the present these organisations operate as institutions with a broad vision of the economic panorama and are major driving forces in the local economy.
The Barcelona Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1886 as heir to the Royal Special Board of Trade, with the mission of defending the general interest of the economy and achieving the common good of the country’s commerce, industry, and shipping. However, its origins also go back to two medieval institutions that have left a remarkable historical footprint on Catalonia’s economic development.
On the one hand, there is La Llotja de Mar. It was built as a space for merchants and became increasingly important as Barcelona became a commercial power in the Mediterranean, competing directly with other cities like Venice and Geneve.
Today La Llotja is the corporate headquarters of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and is widely admired for its valuable artistic heritage. In fact, the building has been declared a cultural asset of national interest.
The other precursor of the Chamber of Barcelona is the Consolat de Mar, a secular institution that was also born in the Middle Ages committed to ruling the activity of merchants and resolving conflicts that could arise between them.
The Catalan Consolat de Mar was a pioneering institution that inspired the founding of other institutions throughout the Mediterranean. In fact, the Consolat de Mar laid the foundations of modern international trade law.
Today, the Consolat de Mar is the arbitration and dispute resolution centre of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and works to restore its reputation as a reference player in the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) field.
A core economic agent
The Barcelona Chamber of Commerce is the most important of the 13 Chambers operating in Catalonia. Its territory of influence, the Barcelona area, includes 490,000 companies and entrepreneurs.
Legislation assigns to the Chambers of Commerce the representation, promotion, and defence of the general interests of commerce, industry, services, and shipping, as well as the provision of services to companies. Some of these services include consultancy and processing of certificates for international trade, as well as courses and promotion of the digital economy, among many others.
The Chambers of Commerce represent the interests of the economy and all businesses, no matter if they are SMEs, big corporations or startups. They also actively collaborate with public administrations and other organisations and play a consulting and economic research role which serves an important service.
The Barcelona Chamber of Commerce is present in the management organs of more than 100 entities and companies of great importance for the Catalan economy. It is also an active part of the network of Chambers coordinated by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce.
Also, is a member of international organisations that bring together Chambers from other regions, such as Ascame, Eurochambres and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
The Barcelona Chamber is a parliamentary organisation that renews its governing bodies every four years through participative elections. The Plenary is the supreme governing and representative body of the entity, made up of 60 members representing all sectors of the economy.
These members are responsible for electing the President and the rest of the members of the Executive Committee, the Chamber’s permanent management, administration, and proposal body.