A trade organisation with an illustrious history

BPCC Chairman António Comprido traces the history of the organisation since 1911.

It was at nine o’clock on April 19, 1911 when a meeting with the British Legation began, presided by Sir Francis Hyde-Villiers, a minister for George V, who presented a proposal for the foundation of the British Chamber of Commerce in Portugal.

To be based in Lisbon, what was to evolve into the organisation today was unanimously agreed by those present at the meeting.

On April 12, 1912, the definitive registration of the British Chamber of Commerce in Portugal was made.

In 1947, statutes were altered to enable the admittance of Portuguese members and finally in 1967 it became the Câmara de Comércio Luso-Britânica (British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce) and its members became equal whether British or Portuguese.

Although the list of illustrious names who helped and gave service to the Chamber over that time is a long one, three names stand out: the founder and first president J.W.H Bleck, first chairman R.Garland Jayne, and treasury secretary G.J.C. Henriques.

It was also important to remember the centenary members, tribute to which was made during the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Charles in April.

“It’s interesting that we are celebrating 100 years and still have names that go back to our foundation,” he said. “Harker Sumner S.A.,  James Rawes SPGS., Garland Laidley, SGPS, The Fladgate Partnership – Vinhos S.A., Babcock & Wilcox – Portugal S.A., and Symington Family Estates, Vinhos, Lda.”

Also thanked were those who worked for the Chamber and those who had given their time voluntarily.

The board members, the regional committee members, those in working taskforces, and those who had dedicated part of their free time to the Chamber.

Mention was given to the British Embassy in Portugal and its close relations with the BPCC and the Portuguese foreign trade office AICEP, which had helped in many initiatives.

In fact, all those who support or have supported bilateral trade initiatives through services provided, the organisation of events, networking activities between business people, among others, deserved mention.

Lately, the BPCC has developed its activities on new fronts, namely accompanying Portuguese companies at trade fairs in the UK as well as accompanying embassy committees with British businesses in search of opportunities in Portugal.

There was also the participation with other chambers of commerce under the sponsorship of the European Union in an initiative called BRIC-ITT, which aimed to use training tools including an e-learning platform to help European SMEs to do business in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The help and sponsorship of some of the BPCC’s partners was also thanked, including that of Banif, BP Portugal, Ernst & Young and Logica and Symington Family Estates.