Our History

The American Chamber of Commerce in Spain (AmChamSpain) was founded on October 29, 1917, by a group of U.S. companies with interests in Spain, and thanks to the decisive support of the U.S. Ambassador at the time, Joseph Edward Willard, and the U.S. Consul General, Carlton B. Hurst.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the primary American business organization, had been founded just a few years prior, in 1912. Some 600 business organizations throughout the country pledged to join forces to lobby the government and parliament on behalf of the business sector, thereby forming what is today the U.S. Chamber, the largest business organization in the world, with hundreds of thousands of directly associated companies, and more than 3 million indirect associations through other local chambers and industry organizations. It was decided that the headquarters would be across from Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., facing the White House, with the aim of directly and transparently influencing the decisions of its occupant, always in favor of business and free trade.

Today there are 108 AmChams affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spread across five continents, with a colossal capacity for influence aimed at attracting and retaining investment from U.S. companies in the host country, encouraging investment from domestic U.S. companies, and improving the regulatory framework to increase the competitiveness, technological development and internationalization of the economy. From China to Brazil, Australia to Nigeria, Ireland to Japan, and Poland to Mexico, AmChams are a driving force behind global flows of investment, technology and talent.

AmChamSpain was born in the midst of World War I, under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. AmChamSpain was the third American Chamber of Commerce founded worldwide, after AmCham France and AmCham UK. The reason for its early creation, in comparison to other countries, was the need to have a neutral business platform in Europe from which U.S. companies could provide services to both sides, yet this vision was thwarted shortly before the actual establishment of the organization with the U.S. entering World War I on April 6, 1917, on the side of the Allies.

AmChamSpain has survived two world wars, the Cold War, three monarchies, a republic, two dictatorships, and a bloody civil war. It has coexisted with nineteen U.S. presidents (out of a total of 46), and seven Spanish presidents since the Constitution of 1978. As with the rest of the AmChams, and since its founding, the organization’s honorary presidency corresponds to the U.S. Ambassador in the country.

The Chamber experienced the first wave of American investment in the 1920s and 1930s. It also lived through a disconcerting period during the war and post-war period in which foreigners could not preside over institutions, and the rules of the U.S. Chamber did not allow non-Americans to preside over its affiliates, as they do now, leaving the Chamber essentially paralyzed following the Civil War. It was not until the agreements of September 1953 between Spain and the U.S. that the full power of the Chamber was restored. Manuel Arburúa, the Vice President of the Madrid Committee of AmChamSpain since 1946, was appointed as Franco's trade minister and worked as part of the administration to bring the two countries closer together. The Pact of Madrid of 1953, which marked the end of autarchy, had the U.S. Ambassador and the Chairman of AmChamSpain as the only negotiators on the American side at that time. Minister Arburúa represented the Spanish side.

The Chamber has also lived through the boom that began in the 1960s with a strong flow of U.S. investment and shaped a modern Spain that created the middle class, ended the dictatorship, and marked the start of democracy. It has also survived the other boom, the one that followed the stabilization of democracy during the 1980s with the entry into the common market, where technology and American business methodology were essential to modernizing the productive fabric. The Chamber has also experienced two financial crises (1929 and 2008) and two major pandemics (the 1918 influenza pandemic and COVID-19). On the other hand, over the last 20 years, Spanish companies have gone from being an insignificant investor in the U.S. to becoming one of the largest investors (10th) in direct investment.

AmChamSpain is now focused on its future. How can it contribute more to a society that has evolved into a place where business organizations have to adapt to very different scenarios? The disruptive changes on the horizon will modify the parameters by which we live, consume, trade, manufacture and relate to one other.

What is the future of AmChamSpain in the context of major change? What interest might a bilateral business organization like ours hold for new leaders? Without being able to predict the future, we can imagine what our mission might be for the coming decades. Continue adding value to investment and trade flows between Spain and the United States, as we have always done. Support the competitiveness, productivity and internationalization of the Spanish economy through our committees and lobbying work, as we have attempted to do in recent years. Clearly keep the best companies in our social base and involve their top leaders in our activities. But, above all, our new roadmap should include helping to adapt the productive fabric to a new reality that involves a technological revolution and multiple social and geopolitical challenges—one that is undoubtedly already here.



Philip J. Brewer


Harry L. Van Tress


Melville M. Smith


Wiliam E. Powell


John H. Jordain


Martin L. Glidewell


Robert B. Gwynn


John E. Hill


John W. Bigham


Ramón Pañella

In functions


Antonio B. Caragol

in functions


Homer W. Eddy

In functions


Ramón Pañella

In functions


Max H. Klein


Richard Ford


Max H. Klein


William G. Abouchar


Lawrence E. Bell


Paul N. Temple


Peter Danos


Emil P. Larricq


Hugh de N. Wynne


William H. Singleton


James A. Baker


Max H. Klein


Steven K. Winegar


Max H. Klein


James A. Baker


Felipe Saiz Vilalta


Jaime Malet