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Strengthening Transatlantic Business Partnerships

Patrick Mikkelsen, Chairman, AmCham Europe

AmCham Serbia’s bid to host the European Conference in October was extraordinary, and that is why we will all be at the Belgrade Hilton from October 16 to 19. It will be an opportunity to showcase Serbia and the Serbian chapter of AmCham to all members of our community

AmChams in Europe (ACE) was established back in 1963, and it serves as an umbrella organization for 45 American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams) from 43 countries throughout Europe and Eurasia, explains Patrick Mikkelsen, chairman of AmCham Europe and AmCham The Netherlands. Although ACE is an association with a long tradition, the business public is not that familiar with their work.

This will change on October 16–19, when ACE members gather in Belgrade for the European Conference, one of two annual landmark events. This year for the first time the conference will be hosted by AmCham Serbia.

“In Europe, we represent the interests of more than 17,000 American and European companies employing more than 20 million workers – accounting for more than $1.1 trillion in investment on both sides of the Atlantic,” says Mikkelsen. “With a presence in 43 countries, AmChams in Europe is the largest network of international chambers of commerce in Europe.

ACE is governed by an executive committee that consists of seven AmCham executives, each representing an AmCham member country. Our role is to develop and support the network of AmChams across Europe and ensure the exchange of best practices among member organizations.”

What does AmCham Europe offer its members when it comes to managing the complex landscape of transatlantic economies?

– As a bilateral voice of American and European companies, AmChams in Europe works to communicate the importance of a transatlantic economy for both Europe and the United States. Our members use this platform to facilitate the development of their businesses in key European markets by engaging with AmChams according to their interest.

It is also important to note that AmCham membership provides companies with access to relevant government officials; knowledge exchange and network development for local, regional, or international leadership; specific industry and cross-industry committee programs, and increased company visibility with key stakeholders and decision-makers.

How can the European network help for members in the U.S. get a better understanding of developments in this part of the world?

– AmChams in Europe organize two milestone annual conferences. One in the United States and one in Europe, which will be held in Belgrade this October. When it comes to the United States, the conference is the multilateral opportunity for all participants. AmCham executives meet with companies, organizations and governmental agencies in Washington DC as well as relevant U.S. cities or regions, with the purpose of increasing awareness of AmChams in Europe, strengthening partnerships, and sharing key insights into the current European and U.S. business and political climates. This sharing of knowledge and information supports a better common understanding and facilitates companies’ market strategies and business opportunities.

AmChams in Europe (ACE) represents more than 17,000 American and European companies employing more than 20 million workers and account for more than $1.1 trillion in investment on both sides of the Atlantic

Recently AmChams in Europe welcomed a new member from the Balkans. What will the European network mean for them?

– The ACE Community is very proud and privileged to have welcomed AmCham Bosnia and Herzegovina to the network. We are confident that the many upcoming opportunities to collaborate with our new member will be fruitful and that will allow us all to gain many beneficial insights – from learning about new best practices through exchanging of knowledge to the cultural uniqueness.

Our newest member was established in 2001 to advance the interests and views of the U.S. and other foreign businesses in BiH, to assist in improving the business environment in BiH, and to promote high standards of commercial practice. It stands as a powerful and efficient leading voice in the business community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, promoting the global competitiveness of its economy through advocacy and events as well as implementing best practices. Being an ACE member will allow them to further leverage their position in BIH and strengthen local and international relations.

How does the network function on a daily basis? How do members exchange best practices among themselves?

– There is a lot of everyday communication among AmChams in Europe. As an umbrella organization, our main task is to facilitate the exchange of European and U.S. business-related information, but it is also to facilitate international business opportunities and support the growth of our members. We communicate and share relevant information on a regular basis, but the two annual gatherings represent a best-practice sharing platform that is highly appreciated throughout our network.

We present the most successful local AmCham projects to the group, and, by doing so, the most successful projects are implemented by other AmChams in Europe. We exchange ideas on local and national governmental relations, membership criteria and retention rates, HR and communications initiatives and this knowledge sharing help us all grow and develop further and in a sustainable way.

What were the most important messages from the latest conference in the U.S.? Which insights into the current U.S. business and political climate would you like to share with our business community?

– The AmChams in Europe annual conference in the U.S. was held in Washington, D.C., and Seattle, Washington, from May 12 to 17, 2019. Our 35-member delegation from 29 countries met with prominent American politicians in Washington, and we spoke and shared insights about the global economic situation and viewpoints with representatives of the U.S.

Department of Commerce, including Karen Dunn Kelley, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, representatives of the Pentagon, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Atlantic Council.

The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness of the importance of the role of trans-Atlantic relations, strengthen existing partnerships, promote the organization and gain insight into trends and events in both the political and economic spheres. The delegation saw the conference as extremely successful, and one of the main messages they brought back from the U.S. is that cooperation, mutual respect and awareness of values are extremely important, and that Europe has to stay connected if it wants to keep up with other countries.

We assist the exchange of European and U.S. business related information, but we also facilitate international business opportunities and support the growth of our members

One of the insights from the U.S. conference was that Europe is lagging significantly behind the U.S. and China in terms of digital development. To what extent are U.S. companies operating in Europe able to accelerate progress and lessen this lag?

– After the visit to Boeing’s largest factory, known for its hi-tech development in the aviation industry, we visited Seattle – a city known for having two of the world’s three trillion-dollar companies. We first visited Accenture, which employs half a million people around the world, and we identified the most important areas of future development.

One of the conclusions of the meeting was that Europe is indeed lagging significantly behind the U.S. and China in terms of digital development. But thanks to the presence of U.S. companies on European soil and to the technological advancement of the 21st century, this gap will be closing very soon – so I wouldn’t worry that much.

This fall, executive representatives of participating AmCham Europe countries will gather in Belgrade, Serbia in October for the annual European Conference. Which topics will be in focus?

– The European Conference is traditionally hosted by an AmChams in Europe member and the conference focuses on facilitating the exchange of best practices and discussing relevant issues impacting AmChams and their members. I must emphasize that AmCham Serbia’s bid was extraordinary, and the executive team did a great job in representing Serbia at its best. And that is why we will all be at the Belgrade Hilton from October 16 to 19.

It will be an opportunity to showcase Serbia and the Serbian chapter of AmCham to all members of our community. We will talk in detail on where AmChams in Europe should stand in the next 20 years, how the AmChams should adapt to a fast-changing international landscape, how we can jointly reinforce the positions of the AmChams in our home countries, etc.

In the upcoming conference, a participating representative with the best project or practice will also be presented with the Creative Network Award. How much does this relatively new initiative contribute to fostering an exchange of innovative ideas?

– The Creative Network Award is given out to the best project or practice in various categories, ranging from membership and management, advocacy and impact, communication, to marketing creative initiatives and programs. This award is a huge opportunity for local AmChams to make their accomplishments visible in an international arena, but also an opportunity for fellow AmChams to apply similar concepts in their home countries.

The ACE Creative Network Award was established in 2014 with the aim of incentivizing AmChams to share creative initiatives and projects, for the benefit of AmChams throughout the ACE network, with the intention of fostering an exchange of innovative ideas.

GOAL

As a bilateral voice of American and European companies, AmChams in Europe works to communicate the importance of a transatlantic economy for both Europe and the United States

CONFERENCES

Two annual landmark gatherings represent a best-practice sharing platform that is highly appreciated throughout our network

FOCUS

At the Belgrade conference, we will talk in detail on where AmChams in Europe should stand in the next 20 years, and how the AmChams should adapt to a fast-changing international landscape

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