12th June 2023, Barcelona – ASCAME brought together its members for a four-day celebration designed to stregthen ties and to foster the exchange of best practices between chambers of commerce. It was the first edition of the ASCAME Community Week (ACW), an absolute success that will become a yearly occurrence from now on.
The event took place in Barcelona between the 6th and the 9th of June. ASCAME invited an international delegation comprised of chambers of commerce and the companies they represent, from a dozen Mediterranean countries. We offered them the opportunity to make business, expand their network and discover the latest innovation trends.
How? Workshops, B2Bs, exchange visits, an international fair… and even a speedy boat! Discover more details below.
A time for decisions
The ACW offered the perfect framework for a meeting of ASCAME’s Executive Committee. The representatives of the chambers gathered in La Llotja de Mar to evaluate the latest initiatives and establish the roadmap for the future.
The meeting broke the record of in-person attendance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a reason for celebration. Some of the decisions taken were:
- The extension of the mandate of President Ahmed El Wakil. The electoral process for the next presidency of ASCAME will begin in June 2024.
- The approval of ASCAME’s Strategic Plan 2024-2028, aimed at positiong the chambers of commerce of the Mediterranean as the guiding force for the green, blue and digital economies.
- The participation of ASCAME in the COP 28 in Abu Dhabi and the shaping of a Mediterranean climate strategy in the MedCop in Tanger.
- The creation of the Mediterranean Trade Enhancement Hub, a pole meant to facilitate investment in the region through partnerships with multilateral organisations and development banks.
- The promotion of the private sector’s participation in the reconstruction of Syria and Libya.
- The engagement of ASCAME’s members in the new calls for European cooperation projects.
Pushing our chambers towards excellence
The ACW started with a labelling academy for our members. The goal was to help them expand their portfolio of services and find synergies that will prove useful in the new economy. The representatives of the chambers attended specialised training activities at the Digital HUB (property of ASCAME’s member the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce). Those workshops dealt with a variety of topics:
- good practices for chambers
- open innovation networks to foster knowledge transfer
- digital tools for B2B
- resource efficiency
- hubs for entrepreneurship in the Chambers 4.0 era
- crossborder investment opportunities
By the end of the week, ASCAME awarded the attendees with a “quality excellence” certification to acknowledge the steps taken by their chambers to stay at the forefront of innovation. Recognising their efforts is important: the more prepared the chambers of the Mediterranean are, the better suited they will be to attend the needs of the companies they represent and the bigger role they will have in the socio-economic development of the region.
The Mediterranean business ecosystem reunited in one room
One of the highlights of the ACW was the B2B for Mediterranean companies. The goal was to create an encouraging setting so SMEs could find potential partners across countries and sectors. That is why ASCAME chose to hold the session in the neuralgic center for business in the area: the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce.
The attendees broke the ice with a finger lunch, which fostered mingling and networking, and the new alliances were strengthened in a series of one-on-one meetings. While the companies made business, the chambers of commerce consulted with enterprises looking to go international.
“It’s an incredible opportunity. I feel like the moment I stepped into this room I gained access to all the Mediterranean. So far I have talked with stakeholders from Lebanon, Spain, Greece, Morocco and Turkey”, explained one of the attending Tunisian companies. “There are only 50 people in this room but we represent a diverse business ecosystem“.
Learning through experience
Barcelona is the epicentre for trade and digitalisation in the Mediterranean. We wanted our members to make the most of their visit and so we asked two key ASCAME partners to open their doors for us:
- the Port of Barcelona proved why it is a pioneer in blue economy. The ASCAME community jumped on a speedy boat to discover the infraestructures that make of it a multisectorial port: maritime trade, cruise tourism, smart logistics… all in one place.
- the Barcelona Health Hub gave us access to their headquarters in the extraordinary Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site. Their CEO Luis Badrinas taught us the ropes of this incubator for digital health and presented the start-ups that are transforming the sector.
These exchange visits were strategically chosen by ASCAME to provide success stories that would inspire our members and help the companies they represent: to identify synergies, to discover useful know-hows and to find opportunities for expanding their businesses.
A platform for trade and logistics
During these days, the ASCAME community had access to SIL Barcelona, the largest international exhibitor fair of the logistics industry. Our members took the chance to attend one of the main events inside SIL: MedaLogistics Barcelona, a conference organised by ASCAME in partnership with Consorci de la Zona Franca. On its 19th edition, MedaLogistics focused on the future of the Mediterranean in a new global economic order and established a roadmap for the region as a hub between continents and global trading powers.
The forum received over 450 attendees from 30 different countries and it was the framework for hundreds of business meetings. ASCAME introduced 40 speakers, leading experts who addressed current issues in global and regional trade and investment. They presented business opportunities, groundbreaking technologies and incoming trends in an ever-changing market environment.
The invited chambers of commerce and their companies met potential customers, colleagues and competitors. They were in the same room with: senior government officials, port managers, procurement decision-makers, importers and exporters, shipping lines, and terminal and rail operators, among others.
A special highlight of this edition of SIL Barcelona was that ASCAME’s General Coordinator, Anwar Zibaoui, was recognised for his role in the logistics sector. In a festive ceremony at the impressive National Theatre of Catalonia, Zibaoui and other institutional personalities were awarded with a medal by His Majesty Felipe VI, the King of Spain. This recognition was an initiative of Consorci de la Zona Franca to honour its life-long collaborators.
Moreover, ASCAME renewed its partnership with the MedPorts Association. Ahmed el Wakil and Pino Musolino (Presidents of ASCAME and the MedPorts Association respectively) signed an agreement with specific collaborative activites related to the blue economy. The goal, as always, is to move the Mediterranean forward through cooperation.
Celebrating the Mediterranean
To culminate a fantastic week, ASCAME brought together chambers, companies and collaborators for a gala dinner in Terraza Miramar. The breathtaking skyline of Montjuïc was testimony of an evening of handshakes, music, great food and laughter.
All in all? Mission accomplished. We are proud of our ASCAME community.
Keep an eye open for next editions of the ASCAME Community Week. If you want to participate, don’t hesitate to reach out:
- If you are already a member, contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If not, well, what are you waiting for? Become a member and join our community of chambers of commerce and international organisations working to invigorate the Mediterranean economy.