Austrian Economic Chamber
The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (de: Wirtschaftskammer Österreich or WKO) functions as the federal parent organization for the nine State Chambers and 110 trade associations for different industries within Austria's system of economy. Most State Chambers and associations have local offices to provide services in close proximity to members.
Compulsory membership by Austrian federal law is automatic with obtaining the operating licence of the company and thus includes all Austrian companies in operation. The resultant membership of 517.477 active businesses as per 2017 includes diverse sectors such as trade and craft, commerce, industry, transportation, tourism, services industries, finance and insurance, but not agriculture, as this sector is served by its own Chamber.
Main tasks and activities
Representation of membership interests at all levels of government. By law governments are obliged to consult with Chambers on legislative projects and important regulation. In many laws a provision is made to involve Chambers in decision-making and administrative procedures. Information and advisory service to members: Typical issues include taxation, labour law, vocational training, industry-specific legislation, industry-wide advertising and market research.
Collective bargaining with unions
Trade associations engage in negotiations with their respective sectoral countrywide union. Economic Promotion and Development as well as training and consulting are mainly organised by a specialised department in each region (WIFI, Wirtschaftsfoerderungsinstitut).
Business Support and Promotion of International Trade is provided by a specialised department at a national level (AWO - AUSSENWIRTSCHAFT ÖSTERREICH), 110 field offices around the world (Austrian Trade Commissions) plus a network of specialised experts within the State Chambers. Public law (Wirtschaftskammergesetz) provides a legal foundation for the Austrian Federal Economic Chambers, supplying the legal framework for all Chambers, their co-operation, mandatory membership, and rules for setting membership fees. Although established by public law the Federal Economic Chambers are exclusively business driven.
Every 5 years entrepreneurs elect officers and representatives for the trade associations and the Chamber (amounting to a total of more than 10.000 officers) from their own ranks. In these elections free associations of entrepreneurs field their candidates to compete for the leadership of the Chambers and individual trade associations. Some of these entrepreneurial associations are affiliated with political parties while others are independent platforms. Since 1999,Dr. Christoph Leitl has been elected President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber thrice.
The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber is financially self-sufficient with around 85% of expenditure covered by member contributions and a further 15% by revenues from marketable sales. This factor, combined with organisational management through democratic self-government, makes us fully independent from public authorities.
In Austria the promotion of foreign trade constitutes, by law, one major part of the activities of the Economic Chamber. The immense importance of foreign trade to Austria is reflected in the extraordinary range of services provided by AdvantageAustria.org (AWO - AUSSENWIRTSCHAFT ÖSTERREICH) with an international network of 113 Austrian Trade Offices worldwide, in most cases sections of the Austrian embassies in the respective countries.
Furthermore, AdvantageAustria.org offers Austrian businesses a wide range of complementary services including: specialist services related to Austria's EU membership, information and advice. The primary aim is to help create and sustain successful sales and promotion of Austrian goods and services in international markets.
AdvantageAustria.org is also responsible for the organization of trade missions and official participation in international trade fairs and provides advice and assistance to inbound buying missions.
The heads of each Austrian Trade Offices, the Austrian Trade Commissioners or Delegates, help Austrian companies to find new contacts and develop existing business. Trade Commissioners put buyers in contact with potential agents, importers and co-operation partners. They also obtain credit ratings and assist with trade name and patent registration.
- "AdvantageAustria". Retrieved December 16, 2012.
- "Yearbook of the Federal Economic Chamber" (PDF).
- "Austrian Industry Day in Vienna". www.eso.org. European Southern Observatory. Retrieved 22 September 2014.