The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


May 2014
A Mechanism for Cooperation
Samuel Kidder

One of the most positive developments I’ve been able to witness and participate in during my time at the ACCJ has been the growing effectiveness of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC). This loose but collegial association brings together over 24 American Chambers (AmChams) from Guam to Bangladesh and South Korea to New Zealand.

Formed in 1968, APCAC provides a mechanism for cooperation among chambers in the region. Each year one member chamber hosts a major regional business summit. In addition, APCAC holds a Washington, DC Doorknock in the summer and the executive directors get together in the fall to share best practices.

Many readers will remember that in 2012 the ACCJ hosted the APCAC Business Summit, at which we were gratified to see strong participation from around the region.

But even before our host year, former ACCJ leaders had recognized the potential that APCAC embodies, and attended the summits held during the year they were president: Charles Lake (Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam), Allan Smith (Guam), Tom Whitson (Beijing, China), Mike Alfant (Tokyo), Larry Bates (Taipei, Taiwan). ACCJ President Jay Ponazecki attended and led a panel discussion at this year’s event, held in Manila, the Philippines.

This high-level support is appreciated by the other AmChams and has really enabled the ACCJ to become a leader within APCAC.

As increasingly more of our advocacy takes on a regional or even global dimension, the ACCJ has made a major contribution to raising the quality of APCAC advocacy. For years, much of APCAC’s energy in the policy area was focused on US tax issues that affect American expatriates.

With the involvement of ACCJ leaders such as Bruce Ellsworth in the healthcare area and Tom Clark in financial services, APCAC is now taking a polished approach to a broad range of issues. In fact, Tom has become a real pillar of APCAC advocacy as vice chair for Washington and TPP issues.

Of course, the ACCJ’s increased involvement is not the only reason APCAC is becoming more effective. In recent years it has been exciting to watch the newly established AmChams in Cambodia and Mongolia become more engaged. And Thailand is working hard on upgrading participation by Myanmar.

In addition to advocacy coordination, chambers throughout the region are finding useful ways to share best practices. When our IT manager wants to study software that could be useful for our needs in Tokyo, he consults with his counterparts among the APCAC members.

Further, the ACCJ has been able to assist fellow chambers with everything from website management to constitutional revision and program best practices.

An opportunity for ACCJ members to participate in APCAC activities is on the immediate horizon. In mid-July the APCAC Washington, DC Doorknock will be held, and your participation is welcome.

If you plan to be in the DC area around that time, or if you’d like to travel there to join the Doorknock, please inform me or Ethan Schwalbe in the ACCJ office and we’ll get the detailed information to you.



Samuel Kidder