The Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise
The Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise was established as a voluntary constituted body and officially recognised in 1848. It was established on the Anglo-Saxon – private law status model, independent from government or the public sector, with voluntary membership.
Two similar organisations existed prior to The Malta Chamber of Commerce Enterprise: the first was the University, composed of senior citizens and was responsible, among other things, for the importation and storage of grain at a time when piracy was rife in the Mediterranean. Leading businessmen were members of this institution. The second came into being shortly after the arrival of the British in Malta in 1800. Referred to as the “Commercial Rooms”, it was housed in the premises later occupied by the Lyceum and now the Arts and Design Centre in Merchants Street, Valletta. Detailed minutes of the meetings of the “Commercial Rooms” have been preserved at the Chamber’s offices and give a clear picture of trading conditions at the time.
In 1848, the Governor of the Island, Sir Richard More O'Ferrall, took a keen interest in commerce. It was due to his strong desire to make Malta a spearhead of British trade in the Mediterranean that the reorganisation of the commercial community arose and the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise was born.
Sir Richard found great help in the person of Sir Agostino Portelli, K.C.M.G., a leading merchant who was also a politician and who held a seat in the first Council of Government of Malta. Sir Agostino became the first President of the Chamber.
The Chamber was represented by nomination in the various Councils of Government that followed. The first self-governing Constitution in 1921 gave the Chamber the right to elect two senators. Incidentally, the first Prime Minister under the 1921 Constitution, Comm. Joseph Howard, O.B.E., was also a former President of the Chamber.
In 1857, the Exchange Buildings, constructed on its present site in Republic Street, Valletta was inaugurated.
The Chamber celebrated its 160th Anniversary in 2008.
Malta Federation of Industry
The Federation of Industry, or Federation of Maltese Industries as it was then known, was founded in 1946 only one year after the end of World War II. Malta had suffered from the miseries of war in a big way when it was besieged by air and sea. But the Maltese had the spirit of survival imbued in their veins, and the Commercial Sector was no exception to this rule.
A Trade Section was established within The Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise in the height of the War, in 1942. In the short lived association of entrepreneurs within the Chamber, they considered that the situation was not satisfactory enough to defend the special interests of manufacturing industry. There was a first move for reform of the Chamber in January 1946 when the Executive Committee of the Industries Trade Section wrote to the Council about their special interests as distinct from other sections that formed part of the Chamber.
Leading the main thrust, aimed at giving an authoritative voice to the Trade Section, was Elias Zammit. An effort to settle the dispute was made but a breaking point was reached on 2 May, 1946 when a motion to give more autonomy and a stronger voice to the Trade Section was defeated in the Chamber's Council. On 29 May, 1946 the Executive Committee of the Trade Sections resigned en bloc.
The transitory Executive Committee met for the first time on 3 June, 1946. It was composed of Elias Zammit, A.J. Grech, R. Patrick, Dr. W.J. Chalmers, G. Portanier and S.L. Mizzi. The Memorandum and Articles of the new Association were signed on 17 June, 1946. Within four months official recognition was given by Government when on 25 September, 1946 a letter to this affect was received.
The Federation quickly established parallel contacts with overseas Chambers of Commerce and appointed a number of foreign correspondents. Initially its activities, objectives and services were primarily to ensure that Government understood the needs, intentions and problems of Malta’s manufacturing industry.
Like the Chamber, the Federation was an independent, non-political organisation, financed mainly by voluntary membership.
The Federation celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006.