Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber Marks 175 Years!

Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said it was seeking to build a society that thrives on merit and enterprise as it marks 175 years.

Started as an organization representing the plantation community on March 25, 1839, the chamber now represents all business sectors in the country. “We extend our unstinted support to re-focus the Sri Lankan private sector towards export markets, modernize the Nation’s education system, create a society that thrives on merit & enterprise & raise all Sri Lankans to an acceptable, minimum standard of living,” Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.

“The challenges of the future will differ from those of the past. Yet the Chamber’s core principles of Nation First & Private Sector Led Growth will remain.”

Mackwoods Limited was the first official member of the Chamber. It is now affiliated with some 3,500 firms, ranging from regional small businesses to large public companies.

British Governor in then Ceylon J A Stewart Machenzie had backed the creation of the organization to promote trade and agricultures.

In February 28, four people CD Bartlett, J Armitage, George Crabbe, Stephen Vertue and E.J. Darley had formed a committee to draw up the rules for a trade chamber.

A general meeting with thirteen representatives of the mercantile community had been held on March 25, 1839, establishing the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

“Since its inception, the Chamber has sought to promote the National Interest by way of private sector led economic growth,” the CCC said.

“Thus, the Chamber strongly advocated the construction of the modern port of Colombo & the Colombo – Kandy railway.

“In 1858, the Chamber urged the government to accept India`s proposal to link Ceylon to the Madras Presidency Telegraphy line.

“This resulted in Ceylon being linked to the outside world by cable for the first time. Colombo, Galle, Kandy and Trincomalee were also eventually linked by telegraph.

“The Chamber`s effort in improving postal & communications infrastructure continued with the issue of postage stamps in 1856, an outcome of a request by Chamber in that year.

In 1883 tea auctions had begun in Colombo and in 1898 the Chamber had provided space.
The auctions are conducted by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Colombo Tea Traders’ Association under the Chamber Bye-Laws and Conditions of Sale of tea by Public Auction and by Private treaty.

The Chamber had also founded the Employers Federation of Ceylon, The Shippers Council, the Mercantile Services Provident Fund and the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors.