From “Cemiyet-i Ticariye’ to the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce
The world was going through a rapid transformation due to major events such as the discovery of America, the establishment of new trade routes leading to the Far East market through circumnavigation of Africa, the invention of the steam machine and the industrial revolution in the U.K., and the social transformation created by the French Revolution.
All of these developments required novel notions and approaches for the re-organization of production and trade. First, a series of administrative and legal regulations were undertaken to enable the development of agriculture, industry and trade, and hence on June 25, 1876 “Meclis-i Ticaret ve Ziraat’ (Council for Agriculture and Trade) was established. Basically functioning and operating as an “expert and intellectual counseling” body, the Council later pursued its activities as “Meclis-i Ticaret (Council for Trade).
Meclis-i Ticaret formed the core of the “Dersaadet Ticaret Odası” (The Chamber of Commerce of The ‘Land of Happiness,’ this optimistic appellation also being an affectionate epithet for the city of Istanbul) was established on 19 January 1880, and held its first meeting on 14 January 1882. In an era of decline of the Ottoman Empire, the Chamber was envisioned as means to rescue the economy. The Chamber took the name Istanbul Ticaret ve Sanayi Odası” (Istanbul Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in 1910, and following the Declaration of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and the Izmir Economy Congress its image, functions, duties and responsibilities rapidly changed.
Following on from the Law for Chambers of Commerce and Industry of 1925, regulations emerged, and as with many chambers of commerce in Turkey, this provided a legal basis for the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, which earned its legitimate identity. After these developments, the Turkish Law number 655 adopted on 14 May 1925 required all parties involved in commercial activities mandatory membership in Chambers of Commerce.
The Law number 5590 on the Chambers and the Union of Chambers and Exchanges enacted on 8 March 1950 recognized the autonomy that Chambers needed for the creation of an atmosphere, which facilitated professional activities, and supported the aim of the Chamber concerning the promotion of honesty and trust in relationships among members, and between members and the public. in addition, it helped the understanding and development of business discipline, ethics and solidarity, and contributed to the growth of business life in line with the general interests of the society. However, industrial companies formed a separate professional organization, and on 30 May 1952 the Chamber acquired its current name.
In 1925, The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce started to serve in the ‘4.Vakıf Han” building. After 1970, it continued its activities in the building located on the coast of the Golden Horn. In September 2000, an old, however decayed building in Eminönü was restored and started to serve as the new building of the Chamber. The Chamber is now providing services to its members, to the city of Istanbul and to Turkey in this building equipped with the latest technology and of the new millennium.
Today, The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce has 98 Profession Committees and over 325,000 members, and is one of the largest and most prominent Chambers in the world. Since 1927, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce has been a member of the International Chamber of Commerce in order to contribute to the development of Turkey, and to pursue the aim of once again transforming it into a globally networked country. in 1963, İktisadi Kalkınma Vakfı (Foundation for Economical Development) was established, which formed the basis of today’s rapport of the private sector with the European Union. Since 1993, The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce also has been a member of ASCAME. In the 1980s through its cooperation with UNIDO, the Chamber started working towards the establishment of The Supplier Industry Exchange. This is the period when the Istanbul World Trade Center was set up under the leadership of the Chamber.
As one of the important elements of modern business, The Arbitration Institution was put into operation in accordance to The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce’s Regulation of 1950 for Arbitration and Settlement Mediation Expertise. In addition, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce started activities for the securing the rights of the consumers in the 1960s, long before legal arrangements were in effect. The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce members “Commitment for the Protection of the Consumers” which came into effect in 1981, and the “customer is always right” policy has helped solve consumer complaints efficiently.
As a result of the handover of the Istanbul and Kadıköy Registry Offices to our Chamber in 1996, the Chamber has assumed yet another significant responsibility towards its members. The service units of Kadıköy, Perpa, İSTOÇ and Yenibosna were installed to provide the members with simple and speedy access to services. Envisioning a modern Turkey, after 2000 the Chamber felt that it needed to expand its services beyond commerce, into the field of training and education. So far, the Chamber has donated to the service of the community 11 schools, and additionally it has formed the Foreign Trade Institute in 1995 to train international marketing experts that the business community needs. Following this first step, in 2001 a great enterprise was initiated and the Istanbul Commerce University was established to educate the young minds that will lead Atatürk’s Turkey in the new millennium.
The Chamber, which has acted as a pioneer in most fields, has also led the efforts for Quality, and has become the first professional organization in Turkey to acquire an Isa 9001 Quality Certificate.
The ventures of our Chamber in the field of Quality did not stop there. Within the framework of the Development Scheme for Turkish Chambers of TOBB (The Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Maritime Trade and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey) “Quality Strategy for Turkish Chambers” project was initiated in cooperation with the Eurochambers and the Federation of British Chambers, and consequently, following the audit by The Accreditation Council of the Eurochambers, the chamber was elected. Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Chamber was elected “Best Chamber of Europe.”
Through the efforts of its expert staff, with its entrepreneurial spirit and under the guidance of its persisting policy based on honesty and justice, the Chamber will further develop in line with its expanding vision, the mission of “leadership in economy” conferred to it 122 years ago. As a civil society organization holding an important position both in Turkey and in the international community, just as in the past, also in the future, our chamber will continue to be the leader of the society and particularly the business community.