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Chambers across the country almost exclusively offer the export documentation service, which puts a certificate of origin needed on products that arrive at overseas ports.
Chambers need to be part of the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (NZCCI) to offer the service.
The Otago chamber applied for its accreditation at the end of October after it had agreed to merge with the Otago Southland Employers’ Association (OSEA) to create Business South.
That application was rejected because of concerns about the merger.
The Southland Chamber of Commerce has stepped in to the breach and expanded the export documentation it was offering companies.
"Because the Otago chamber’s accreditation was declined that has meant there is a risk for ... they wouldn’t be approved as their own entity to do those export documents," Southland chamber chief executive Sheree Carey said.
The Southland chamber used to do all export accreditation except for products going to East Asia and China. It has now changed that to include those countries.
That is particularly important for places like Alliance meatworks and Blue River Dairy, which export to China.
"We didn’t want our members to ... be put at risk for any confusion ... over their documentation so we’ve now taken those on board as well for our Southland members," Mrs Carey said.
She said the Southland chamber had picked up a handful of businesses as new members that had previously been with the Otago Southland Employers’ Association.
The Otago chamber chief executive Dougal McGowan said the organisation was in discussions with NZCCI about what its merger with OSEA meant in terms of their accreditation application.
The plan for the Otago chamber was to get the accreditation, which it would then hand over to the new Business South entity at a later date, Mr McGowan said.
Mrs Carey said she was meeting the Otago chamber’s president Grant McKenzie and Business South’s new chairman Neil Finn-House at the end of the week.
She said they may agree to a memorandum of understanding where the Southland chamber begins processing export documentation for the Otago chamber’s members.
"We don’t want to see any businesses left in the lurch especially when it comes to exporting because business has already been hit hard with Covid," Mrs Carey said.
Export Southland chairman Geoff Finnerty said he was grateful the Southland chamber was now able to provide all the export documentation needed.
"It’s been a tough year for our exporters already and there are still ongoing logistical issues, the last thing they needed was a headache over continuity of services," he said.
Jack’s Mitre 10 Mega Dunedin group chief executive Neil Finn-House has been elected as the chairman of Business South for the first year until formal elections are held later in 2021.
OSEA and the Otago chamber have formed an interim, first-year board with six members from each of the organisations.
The organisation does not yet have a chief executive but there was a subcommittee looking at appointing one of the current chief executives of OSEA (Virginia Nicholls) and the Otago chamber (Dougal McGowan).
Mr Finn-House would not say whether other candidates were being considered for that role.