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Austria: 60th Anniversary of the Federal Chamber of Industry and Commerce

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One year after the celebrations for the founding of the Republic, the Federal Chamber of Industry and Commerce can also look back on 60 years of its existence. The statutory basis for the foundation of the Federal Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce Act was adopted by Parliament on July 24 1946. The first president was Julius Raab, one of the founders of the Chamber. The Act brought together around 130 trade federations in a single organisation, and also set up the Institute for Economic Development. Under Raab, this new institution developed in one of the cornerstones of Austria's economic and social policy. It was also Raab who laid the foundation for the future success of Austria's export industry by opening the first foreign bureau in Paris in 1946. Subsequently, traditional export markets were regained and new ones developed. As one of the four major lobbies, the others being the Austrian Trade Union Federation, the Chamber of Labour and the Chamber of Agriculture, it made a major contribution to the reconstruction of the Austrian economy following World War Two. The collaboration between these lobbies, mostly referred to in short as the "social partnership", is a unique instrument that has now become a model for Europe. It is based on the conviction that the objectives of economic and social policy can be achieved better by the coordinated actions of the major social groups by means of dialogue than by means of industrial conflict. This collaboration is implemented in the "Parity Commission", which since 1957 has brought together around one table the leading representatives of the government and the four major lobbies. One of the positive consequences of the efforts to ensure political compromise is for instance the rate of zero strike days per 1,000 employees in Austria, making the country the leader in Europe in this aspect.

In February 1963, Ing. Rudolf Sallinger took over from Julius Raab as President of the Federal Chamber of Industry and Commerce, one of his major achievements being the development of a global foreign trade organisation. Currently, the Chamber operates over 100 foreign trade agencies and marketing offices around the world to support the cross-border activities of Austrian business. The Sallinger - Benya axis, the latter being the Chairman of the Austrian Trade Union Federation at the time, like the previous Raab - Bohm axis, became the basis on which the Austrian social partnership was able to rely. With Leopold Maderthaner at the wheel, the Austrian Chamber of Industry and Commerce then spearheaded Austria's membership of the EU. In 2000 the Chamber elected Dr. Christoph Leitl as President. From 2002 to 2006, Leitl also served as President of the European Chambers of Industry and Commerce (EUROCHAMBRES), and in 2006, he was also elected president of the Global Chamber Platform. This period has been characterised by reform of the Chamber, expansion of the EU and globalisation.

Today the Austrian Chamber of Industry and Commerce sees itself as a companion and broker of opportunities for business success, its aim being to help create a feeling of optimism amongst Austrians about the future of their country with its skills, talents, and values.

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