Background and history
CEAC is based on a close cooperation between Europa and Asia which is in particular is also demonstrated by its founding history.
Hamburg, being the seat of CEAC, not only offers hub between both worlds with its commercial part but also the necessary infrastructure to successfully administer and conduct arbitration proceedings.
History of CEAC
The idea for CEAC dates back to 2004 when the Hamburg and Tianjin Bar Associations introduced cooperation. In 2007 discussions about the initiation of an arbitral institution became specific and on numerous occasions the supporting institutions and individuals discussed the details of the project.
In mid-2008 the later shareholder of CEAC, the non-profit Chinese European Legal Association (CELA) was founded. Shortly after in September 2008 CEAC was officially founded and registered. It commenced its activities as of 18th September 2008.
By now CEAC established itself within the international arbitration and trade community. It revised its rules twice and successfully administered the first cases.
2004 - 2006
In 2004, the Hamburg Bar Organisation concluded a Cooperation Agreement with the Tianjin Bar Association and hosted a number of Chinese delegations. In preparation for the visit of Hamburg's mayor (Erster Bürgermeister Ole von Beust) to China, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg approached the Hamburg Bar Organisation. The city raised the question how the Bar Organisation could contribute to enhance relations with China and, in particular, with Hamburg's sister city, Shanghai.
The first bilateral discussions took place on the occasion of the Conference of World City Bar Leaders in Shanghai in September 2004. It showed that a broader view of the picture was necessary. As a result, the project became slowly national, then European and finally global.
In April 2007, on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the Inter Pacific Bar Organisation in Beijing, a group of speakers and arbitration experts and representatives from CIETAC decided to pursue the project further. As a consequence, numerous discussions took place on the occasion of further international conferences (e.g. in Vienna, Singapore, Moscow and New York).
In particular, on 15th October 2007 the Hamburg Bar Organisation invited 32 experts from 17 countries to a kick-off luncheon at the Singapore Cricket Club. On that occasion, the project was presented for the first time in a formal and organized way to the international community. It was decided unanimously to proceed. Within the next months, the project attracted approximately 470 supporters from 47 countries.
In July 2008, the non-profit Chinese European Legal Association e.V. (CELA) was founded. CELA supports the interaction and exchange between China and Europe regarding issues of law and legal culture, including issues of avoidance of international disputes relating to China and the settlement and resolution of such disputes. This includes the creation of the Chinese European Arbitration Centre in Hamburg and any education related to the above-mentioned topics. CELA was registered with the Hamburg Register of Associations on 5th August 2008 (VR 20016).
The Chinese European Arbitration Centre GmbH was founded on 2nd September 2008 and registered with the commercial register on 12th September 2008 (HRB 106638). As of 18th September 2008 the Chinese European Arbitration Centre has been inaugurated and is commencing its activities.
Hamburg & China
Hamburg's Gateway to China
The many rivers and canals in Hamburg are crossed by over 2,500 bridges, more than Amsterdam and Venice combined. Hamburg has more bridges inside its city limits than any other city or town on earth. Nowadays, in many places people worldwide try to build bridges between different cultures in order to create the basis for long-lasting business relationships. Hamburg has always been outstanding concerning those intercultural bridges as well. It is not a coincidence that Hamburg is called the Gateway to the World ("Tor zur Welt"). Hamburg is certainly Europe's Gateway to China.
Over 520 Chinese businesses have a physical presence in Hamburg, making the city China's leading European business and investment hub and around 700 companies from Hamburg trade with Chinese partners. The volume of Hamburg's shipping traffic with China was always impressively high. Hamburg occupies a central position on the shipping route between China and Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, functioning as the transit point and distribution hub for a high proportion of the container traffic between China and these regions.
Trade between Hamburg and China is also on the rise. In 2014 goods worth € 6.6 billion were imported to Hamburg and goods worth almost 4.1 billion exported from Hamburg to China - an increase in export of nearly 50 percent since 2008. Thereby, regarding export, China is the third most important trading partner of Hamburg.
The best example of this trend is the current upsurge in the number of Chinese companies establishing branches in Hamburg. The city is now home to the European headquarters of many shipping-oriented companies. For its own domestic development, China has come to rely on Hamburg-made products and Hamburg's expertise in the services sector.
Hamburg takes a clear position on trade policy issues. Like few other regions of the world, Hamburg knows from experience that fair trade and observance of international standards and rules are the preconditions for prosperity for individuals, cities and nations. This has also been the German experience as a whole in recent years: economic growth would not have been possible without the country's strong export performance.
China Summit and China Time
Hamburg organises biennially the business conference "The Hamburg Summit: China meets Europe". It draws the public's attention to the East Asian growth region of China and is accompanied by the China Time programme, offering a cultural view on and into China.
Arbitration in Hamburg
Hamburg is one of the world's leading centres for international arbitration as more than 15 arbitral institutions have their seat in Hamburg. In this context CEAC is proud that the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce has acted as co-initiator of the Chinese European Arbitration Project.